In this interview by Naomi Uzor, the Chairman of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry trade promotion board, Mr. Goodie Ibru discloses the intents of the up coming Lagos International Trade Fair (LITF).
How is the LCCI preparing for the up-coming Lagos International Trade Fair (LITF)?
We are preparing well, we want to ensure that we have a successful Lagos International Trade Fair, as you know trade fair is a platform which organisations employ for the promotion of their various goods and services. The Chamber is putting things in place.
The fair begins in a few months time, what and what are in place?
Well, we have already launched our prospectus so that participants will know exactly the details and the particular time it will start. We are geared towards meeting with the Press in order to create awareness for people to take full advantage of the trade fair because trade fair is a veritable vehicle for business networking, business interactions, and provides credible information on new and emerging technologies both for private and public sector origin.
What is your arrangement with Aulic in this fair?
Aulic are the concessioners, and we have an arrangement with them to use the trade fair complex just as we did last year.
Did Aulic buy the trade fair ground or are they on lease?
I donâ€™t know the details of the arrangementÂ they have with the Federal Government but all I know is that they have a concession.
Is it that the objective of the Lagos International Trade Fair has been defeated?
Definitely not, exhibitors may not have maximized the potentials offered by trade fairs but that is not to say that the objective has been defeated.Â Actually, some companies depend on the annual Lagos International Trade Fair for their largest sales volume all year round and majority of foreign exhibitors have attested to the potentials of the LITF in reaching the highest percentage of the Nigerian market.Â Many companies at the trade fair today are the product of distributorship and agency, contracts signed at some past Lagos International Trade Fair and one can conclude that the objective of the trade fairÂ has not been defeated
Who and who are expected in this year’s trade fair?
We are expecting a lot of participants from Asia, China, the West Africa countries and countries that make up the ECOWAS.Â We believe that it is going to be an international trade fair.
How many exhibitors have registered for the fair so far?
For now, we have at last count about 33 exhibitors that have registered, just as you know, we are only just in September and we are still expecting more.On the issue of security, what plans have you made?
We are considering the issue of security as very important, what we have done is that, we are working closely with the security agency, the police and we believe that there will be adequate security for the exhibitors and people on the fair ground.
Are you relying on PCHN for power?
We are not relying on them, we have an arrangement whereby we generate our own power Looking back, do you expect this fair to be bigger and better than the previous fairs?
Well, from our experience in the past, each trade fair has always been an improvement on the previous one, and we donâ€™t think this will be an exception, we believe that this trade fair will be better than the past one.
What are we to expect?
We expect a good turn out, we expect a good participation, especially now that people have to work harder to be able to sell their products as the customers and the trade fair of this year will provide that opportunity.
Do you think the economic meltdown will affect the turn-out at the fair?
To the contrary, it is now that they have to work harder to be able to make more money in order to stay afloat and the only way they can do that is to take advantage of the trade fair to bring to the knowledge of the people their products and services.
In your opinion, how would you rate the recent action taken by the CBN on the banks?
Well, the CBN is the supervisory body of the banks, they are the regulatory body for the banks and what they have done is part of their sanctions and from that point of view, the CBN is doing its work, although there have been different opinions as to the way it is being implemented but it will appear that CBN has a right to examine banks and come up with their findings which is what has happened in this case.
What are your challenges?
We have a lot of challenges, the first challenge of the Lagos International Trade Fair is security, most foreign exhibitors shy away from our trade fairs for security concerns and another important challenge is lack of infrastructural facilities, the problems of bad roads, unstable energy supply, traffic congestion, standard hotel facilities within the vicinity of the trade fair ground also discourages, not only the foreign participants but local exhibitors as well.
The attitude of the governments to trade fair is another challenge, governments at all levels have not shown enough commitment to trade fairs. The next factor is the perception of the exhibitors who view trade fair as a venue only for sale of their products and the perception of selling at all cost creates the problems of hawking and the attendant rowdiness which affects the standard of the fair.
The factor of logistics and administration is one that cannot be over emphasized, in that nature includes the sustainabilty of the venue and accessibilities.What do you think will be the solutions to all these problems?
Well. improving necessary infrastructural facilities within the vicinity of the arena is very important, the Lagos State Government’s 10-lane expressway being built will go a long way in easing accessibility to the trade fair complex from both sides, all repairs necessary should be done to ease traffic congestions on the route. The LCCI has put in place a lot of innovations to address the problems of logistics and sustainabilty of venue at the 2009 LITF which includes the maximumÂ use of the facilities at the trade fair complex to ensure very high standard, this year’s fair is planned to be majorly indoor, about 70 per cent indoor and 30 per cent outdoor and will be of international standard with shell scheme stands and air conditioned exhibition tents for some sectors, there will be use of nine halls out of which two will be dedicated to exhibitors from foreign countries and organisations as well as embassies,
there will not only be shuttle bus services but also taxi services purposely for the fair for people who can afford to use them, the entry to the fair will be by automation cards which will admit entrance when slotted into a turnstile machine instead of paper ticket and one of the halls will exhibit products and services from African countries. The fears about security should be doused because security measures being put in place in Lagos is in the right direction and should be reinforced. We have put in place lots of security measures at the LITF to tackle fears of insecurity of the venue which includes the enlistment of the services of private security organisations, deployment of CCTV surveillance cameras for monitoring all the areas, co-opting of some arms of our security services including regular police, Mopol, mounted troops, Customs and Immigration