KIGALI - The Rwanda International Trade Fair, Expo 2010, was yesterday officially opened, and for the first time, officials and exhibitors believe the exhibition reflects a sense of “East Africaness”, giving hope that indeed the Common Market is slowly taking shape.
The trade fair is the first to be organised since the launch of the East African Community Common Market, which went into force on July 1 this year.
Speaking to the press shortly after officially opening the two-week trade fair, Prime Minister Bernard Makuza said that this year’s Expo has been unique and different in terms of preparation and attendance, particularly the ability to attract more international exhibitors.
“It is a good sign. When you see that over 88% of the exhibitors come from the East African region, it means that indeed borders have opened up and people have taken advantage of that,”
“It also means that there is competition, in terms of quality, standard of goods, quantity and also prices and it’s also a wake up call for Rwandans to compete favourably with other East Africans,” Makuza said.
The Prime Minister also commended the increased number of investors compared to last year, which is a sign that the government’s effort to continue making Rwanda a favourable place to do business is paying off.
This years Expo drew 129 foreign exhibitors from 17 countries.
Makuza further commended the organisers and exhibitors for the creativity in organising and preparing the stalls, observing that for the first time, exhibitors have embraced the use of ICT in exhibiting and advertising their products.
Perhaps in a bid to show their might and financial muscle, several companies competed to put up the most attractive stalls so as to draw more visitors.
Corporate companies, particularly telecoms and banks, led the way in using the Expo to showcase their market strength.
According to Robert Bayigamba, the PSF chairman, this year’s Expo has drawn more exhibitors and more goods compared to the previous years, adding that it is important to recognise the huge presence of private companies and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) at the fair.