Today, all roads lead to Bulawayo for the 29th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF). Running under the theme “Propagating Industrial Growth through Trade and Investment”, the fair starts today and ends on Saturday.
ZITF is an annual multi-national exposition which serves as a convenient trade hub for the region and beyond, and is attended by traders, exhibitors, buyers and the public.
That local, regional and international enterprises and corporates of all sizes, shapes and depth compete for space to exhibit their wares, makes ZITF an important gathering of industry and commerce.
Since the inception of this prime international trade extravaganza 60 years ago, the venue — the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre in Bulawayo — had never been full to capacity.
For the first time since its inception in 1959, the organisers have been forced to pitch up tents outside the main venue to accommodate more than 100 exhibitors as all the available space had been taken up.
This makes this year’s expo the biggest.
The fact that the exhibition centre has spilled for the first time in history is a confirmation that the current political dispensation has done enough to support the ease of doing business, under the mantra, Zimbabwe is Open for Business.
The overflow of the ZITF grounds is not an accident but a product of President Mnangagwa’s well-orchestrated international re-engagement programme.
It is fact not fiction that the ZITF grounds have been hard to fill over the years and that when the story is told in the future, this year’s ZITF goes into the history books as a major breakthrough.
Among the first-time exhibitors are Belarus, which is bringing in a number of companies as Harare and Minsk continue to improve their economic relations.
The United States of America is returning to ZITF after a three-year absence.
Other countries that have confirmed participation include Botswana, Ethiopia, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and Zambia.
Backed by the recently gazetted one-stop investor shop that is critical for the ease of doing business, the ZITF has finally come of age.
Zimbabwe has indeed started proving to the world that it has adapted to the dynamics of world business trends that are ever changing with the mantra tipping much towards the “Investor is King” plinth.
Zimbabwe, under the new political dispensation, has set itself as an investment dais and that alone entails change of ways of doing business from attitude to efficiency and little everything else.
This has added depth of character to ZITF and even the type of corporates that are exhibiting, who are drawn from all over the world.
This year, ZITF will not have VIP parking inside the exhibition centre after the organisers converted that space for extra exhibition and the halls, which we haven’t been using for the last four to five years, have been refurbished and converted to exhibition space.
The uptake of space at the exhibition centre has been rising over the last five years, from as low as 47 612 square metres in 2016 to a high of 57 732 square metres in 2019. The good thing is that Government has made arrangements for fuel to facilitate the smooth running of the event.
It is critical to note that this is a big gain and a huge stride for Zimbabwe in terms of business and image building.
Suffice to say the greatest undoing of African countries is bureaucratic bungling. Investors do not need to go through needless bureaucracy. Investors do not need to queue from one office to the other for this and that paperwork. A one-stop shop is, therefore, the best route to go.
Government should be lauded for moving towards promoting the ease of doing business by trying to
create an investor friendly environment.
The fruits are now there for all and sundry to enjoy.
Zimbabwe should therefore use ZITF as a major dais to open an avalanche of business from the world over. The time to do business is now. The time to market Zimbabwe as one of the best investment destinations is now. Let the ZITF tell our story to the world. Let ZITF be the harbinger of better and bigger business.