Stalls at the Kigali International Expo. The event will run until Septemeber 6. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG
A sharp increase in participation in trade fairs has seen the country grappling with a shortage of space at its expo grounds. This has made plans to set up a state of the art exhibition centre, first announced three years ago, even more urgent.
More than 500 local, regional and international exhibitors are attending this year’s Kigali International Expo that runs until September 6 but there are growing concerns over diminishing capacity to accommodate demand for space at the current site.
The 4,8000-square metre area with 763 exhibition stands is hardly enough for the 630 companies that sought to participate in the Fair’s 20th anniversary.
Organisers expect visitors to hit the 300,000-mark.
“Space has been fully booked because it was allocated on a first-come-first serve basis. We are making arrangements to see if we can accommodate a number of incoming exhibitors,” Faustin Karasira, the director of operations at Private Sector Federation (PSF), the organisers of the expo, told Rwanda Today a week before the event opened.
Demand for space at the fair is so high that PSF is considering taking bookings a year in advance.
The Gikondo Expo grounds have not expanded despite exhibitors increasing by more than 100 people every year.
In addition to hundreds of local and regional exhibitors, more than 20 countries including Egypt, India, Turkey, Singapore, Malaysia, Nigeria, Ghana, USA, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Iran and Pakistan have sent representatives at this year’s edition.
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The government is using the platform to attract investments and link local businesses with international firms.
The demand for space is high not only for prime locations, which are booked mostly by big companies like banks and telcos, but also for open space and built stands, which SMES, medium-sized companies and individual businesses prefer.
Prime space goes for between Rwf2 million ($2,371) and Rwf3 million ($3,557) while open space and constructed stands go for between Rwf300,000 ($355) and Rwf600,000 ($711).
The fee for foreign exhibitors range between $375 and $3,750 depending on the type of stand.
Plans to have a large-scale exhibition facility, which were announced three years ago by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, are yet to materialise. But PSF officials say they have bought a 13-hectare piece of land in Gahanga in Kicukiro District.
Mr Karasira told Rwanda Today that preliminary studies and a business plan were under way to develop a large-scale exhibition and convention space.
By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE