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W’African businesses shun 33rd Lagos International Trade Fair

Checks within the three days of the ongoing 33rd Lagos International Trade Fair, holding at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos have shown scanty presence of West African exhibitors.

The development, which is contrary to previous experiences, cannot be unconnected with the current land border closure by the Federal Government.

Recall that the Federal Government had since August 21, shut land borders citing abuse of bilateral understandings by neighbours who are in the habit of allowing their ports to be used in importing Nigeria-bound goods and smuggling same across the border, thereby causing Nigeria to lose revenue.

A visit to the newly created ‘Africa Hall’ at the fair over the weekend showed limited number of Ghanaian, Benin, Togo, Cameroonian exhibitors even though more spaces were taken by Asian firms and struggling Nigerian companies.

Otherwise, this year fair was different from previous ones, as there was creation of a special hall for exhibitors from other African nations tagged ‘Africa Hall’ even though ECOWAS presence remains a far cry from the expected volume at the Lagos yearly trade fairs.

However, it was not clear if part of the reasons why the organizers of the fair, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), called on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, evolve the right economic and investment policies in order to engender investors’ confidence in the country.

President of LCCI, Mr Babatunde Ruwase, said this in his welcome address during the opening ceremony of the 33rd Lagos International Trade Fair in Lagos on Friday.

According to him, a good tempo of trade and commercial activities were critical drivers of economic growth as no economy could expand to create opportunities for its population without thriving commerce.

LCCI boss made it clear that “Our economic and investment policies must be friendly to make Nigeria a major investment hub in Africa. We need the right policies as well as strong commitment to infrastructural development to revive investors’ confidence in our economy.

“Our policies must be one that supports the growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, so they can impact substantially on the economy in terms of growth, job creation and value generation.

“We believe that the goal to rank among the top 70 countries on the Doing Business Rankings by 2023 is achievable. Achieving this objective however requires the combined efforts of both government and private sector.”