The Vice-President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Chairman, Trade Promotion Board, Mr. Sola Oyetayo, talks about the forthcoming Lagos International Trade Fair, in this interview with ANNA OKON
What challenges do you face in the preparation for the 2016 Lagos International Trade Fair?
The major challenge is the present economic situation in the country and this is an opportunity for us to think out of the box. We are expecting the fair to bring the best out of our economy.
What innovations have you introduced into the programme?
We have introduced an essay competition among Lagos State secondary school students on the theme of the fair. We have also decided to improve on the business to business fair, which was introduced in 2015.
What will make this edition different from the last edition?
This is the 30th edition. We have made substantial investments in facilities to make the fair worthwhile for both the exhibitors and visitors. We are hosting an international investment conference where renowned experts will constitute panel of discussants. This conference comes up on November 9, 2016. We are also hosting a creative fair.
What inspired the theme of the fair?
The theme is ĎPositioning the Nigerian Economy for Diversification and Sustainable Growthí. You will agree with me that Nigeria must diversify her economy, especially her sources of revenue. We also need to ensure that we device mechanisms for sustaining the growth that we have achieved. We were inspired by the potential that the Nigerian economy possesses and the need to maximise such potential to improve the well-being of the citizens and for Nigeria to take its rightful place among the comity of nations.
How many exhibitors are you expecting at the fair?
We are expecting over 1,000 exhibitors and 20 of them are foreign firms or organisations. I do not expect the number to be less than that. We have done our homework and met the expectations, compared to our position last year.
What is the LCCI doing about the reported high prices being charged for products by exhibitors at the fair?
Let me correct the impression that you get cheap prices at the trade fair. What you get are discounted trade fair prices and this depends on the goods. Donít forget that we have the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria that will ensure that goods at the fair are of approved quality and standard. So, you are getting a reasonable price better than what you get outside for the same quality and standard. We strongly believe in market-driven economy; so we donít get involved in price fixing.
How much revenue is this yearís trade fair expected to generate?
I cannot give you any figure now.
You are running more than one programme simultaneously during one trade fair. What are the gains of doing this?
This helps us to take care of all and sundry, although we are not unmindful of the challenge of the logistics, especially when we donít have the ownership of the venues and infrastructure to accommodate all the activities.
What will this fair do about the economic recession in the country?
It will show how resilient our economy is. It will encourage those who have lost hope that opportunities abound. It will provide a channel for our manufacturers and merchants to sell their goods. Itís a forum for Nigerians to see business opportunities in new products to be displayed by foreign exhibitors. This is the best fair so far in the history of trade fairs in Nigeria. It will continue to live.