By Naomi Uzor
â€¦Plans biggest fair ever
In this interview conducted by Naomi Uzor, the President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Solomon Onafowokan, said the 2009 Lagos International Trade Fair (LITF) will be the biggest fair in Africa. Excerpts
How is the chamber preparing for the 2009 Lagos International Trade Fair (LITF)?
We are ready, we have flagged off, we have launched our prospectus, and we are now sensitizing the exhibitors. Recently in Abuja, all the commercial counsellors of the industries were spoken to, they were sensitized, we have positive response from them and we are happy about it.
What are your expectations?
Expectations, we have always said that LITF is the biggest and the best, but this time around, it is not only going to be the biggest and the best but it will be very close to that of international standard.
What is the arrangement between the LCCI and Aulic?
They are private sector people. Earlier on we had a disagreement, but we have been able to settle it positively, because we believe that we need to work together and they need us, as well as we need them. They have discovered that, that place was created for international trade fair. As the manager, we need to collaborate and they have given us assurance that they will make a lot ofÂ difference from what it was when it was being run by the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry. So we are giving them a chance, we are also not leaving them, and we will make sure that whatever promises they give, those promises will be meet. The ultimate is to have a very successful Lagos International Trade Fair 2009.
Was the trade fair ground bought over completely by Aulic?
No, they did not buy the fair ground. They are in concession. They will be in concession for the next 25 to 30 years after which they will return the property.
Do you think the current economic meltdown will affect the turn out of people at the fair?
I donâ€™t think so, because in business like this, it is during the time of recession that you must go out to promote your business so as to get your customers back on line. A lot of customers are running away from some products, it is time for you to make people know your products. I am very confident that it will even be bigger than what we had last year.
Has exhibitors started registering for space at the fair?
Yes, they have started registering for space, already we have gotten about 50 within the last two weeks that we launched the prospectus. The turn out has been very positive and we believe that it will be a very successful fair. I think in the last two years this is the first time we are going to start early.
What security measures are being are in place for the fair?
Apart from using the police, we also have our own private security guard by private companies to secure the fair very well. We have also talked with the people at the cantonment and they are cooperating with us and have given us some people to man the area. Security men will be placed both outside and within the trade fair ground.
Will hawkers be allowed in the fair?
That is one huddle that we have been trying over the years to get rid of, but at least they are reducing. What we did last year was to try and create a place for them and then we have somebody to control them and we charge them a little bit less, so that they can also sell, because if you donâ€™t do that, you will still find them coming into the arena. Even then, you still find that they will leave the arena and come to the main arena of the fair. But at least it was reduced last year and I think this time also it will be further reduced because we are going to expand the place, we will give them.
What will the setting of the fair look like?
The new managers are trying to make more halls available this year. Sixty percent the fair will be in-door and 40 per cent will be out-door. Electrical will be one hall, cosmetics in one hall, banks in one hall, and so on, except for people with heavy equipments that will be outside. But some people are also opting to be outside and we are saying no because we want to close our doors.