“Good deal” at the Lomé International Fair
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More than 1,000 exhibitors from 22 countries in Africa and other places are participating in the 17th edition of the Lomé International Fair, which opened on November 30 and continues until December 18, with the ambition to strengthen their activities, after the two-year suspension due to Covid-19.
The purpose of this main meeting is to “promote trade in goods and services from all sectors of economic activity among countries, both in the sub-region and in the rest of the world, and to increase the level of commercial activity between countries and to promote local consumption”, according to Comlan Yakpey, acting director general of the Togolese Center for Exhibitions and Fairs in Lomé (Cetef-Lomé).
Anadolu Agency went to the site, in Cetef-Lomé, a space of 90,000 m2, with large pavilions to accommodate the stands, and talked to some exhibitors who are convinced that it is a fair in all circumstances. And every actor, by choosing to stand there, doesn’t expect to leave without doing good business.
Ms. Nanou Nassouma is a regular at the Lomé International Fair. He has been coming here for over ten years. Together with other participants from the Women’s Association for Guinean Handicrafts (Afepag), she did not want to return to Konakry with only one of the batches of handicrafts brought to this 17th Lomé International Fair.
Promote African culture and local crafts
“I left Guinea to go with the call of the Lomé fair. We had to cross two countries in crisis (Mali and Burkina Faso) to get here. I admit that it was not easy. But it’s been fine since we got here. And we do not want to return to Conakry with only one of our handicrafts specially made by women members of our association,” said Ms. Nassouma to Anadolu Agency.
Ms. Nanou Nassouma and his colleagues show, in fact, in the middle of the pavilion called “Mono” at the fair, different sets of fabrics, Lépis de Conakry, and batik fabrics of different types. In her display, there are also quite colorful clothes at different prices depending on the quality.
“These clothes are also sewn by women from our association. Women who understand that we can no longer expect everything from men. And we offer a price for each category, depending on whether you are rich or poor. You see ? Everyone is given a chance to have their share,” she added.
It should be noted that for these women, the goal of selling everything in Lomé before returning to Conakry hides another. Using the funds obtained from this trade in Lomé to “buy other handicrafts made in Togo, to resell them in the Guinean market” upon their return.
Anadolu also met exhibitors from other countries such as Burkina Faso. Kabore Youssouf is from Burkina Faso and this is the first time he has come to exhibit at the Lomé International Fair.
“We’ve heard great things about this fair. Those who used to participate told us all the benefits of this fair. That this is a fair where there are many opportunities. Without thinking, we also decided to try the economy adventure. And we appreciate the atmosphere and the impeccable quality of the organization,” he told Anadolu Agency.
He presented himself for this first participation, “the artisanal and cultural showcase” of the country of “Men of integrity”.
In fact, Kaboré shows at the Lomé fair jackets sewn with Kente, whose stripes alternate in different colors that attract attention. A local textile made from start to finish by her hands and the “brave Burkinabè women”.
“These jackets are now part of the clothing for the main events in Burkina Faso. In the sense of promoting African culture and local African crafts, we have come to offer them to Africans in Togo. And hope “We liquidate them all before leaving. Because these are heavy clothes made of 100% cotton,” said Kaboré.
He also shows in his display other natural local products, such as shea butter.
Penetrate the local Togolese market
“I came to take advantage of the opportunity to continue penetrating the local Togolese market with the products I brought back from Pakistan. This is why I responded to the call for exhibitions at the 17th Lomé International Fair,” said Hussain Babar Raja to Anadolu Agency.
Hussein and his brother set up two large stands at the Lomé International Fair and sell a variety of items made in Pakistan that make household tasks easier, especially in the kitchen. And this is not his first involvement.
“We started a few years ago selling shoes and bags of different qualities that show a little bit of the world here, the culture of Pakistan. But, we understood within a few years that the market demands those products that the Pakistani industry can provide at a lower cost. So alongside all that is bags, shoes, carpets and others, we exhibit at the fair small machines, whether electric or not, which makes it easier for women in the kitchen,” explained by Hussain.
By lowering prices, he added, “we create excitement around our products, and that is good for our business. But also, we participate in this way in the Togolese economy”.
Many other elements at the 17th Lomé International Fair testify to the opportunities that participants can get, even fashion designers, for example, find their place there.
Tobi Star set up a small stand there with five machines that he has been operating since the Fair began with his three apprentices.
“Here, we are going to negotiate with the exhibitors since they will be here until the eve of the holidays, so they can buy fabrics and entrust us on site to sew end-of-year clothes for their children. And without lying to you, it works. We think it’s a good investment,” says Tobi the designer.
Among the thousands of exhibitors, there are university schools that, obviously, have a place to choose from. But what are schools looking for in a trade fair like the international one in Lomé?
Participate in the creation of national wealth
To Sedzro Robert, founder of ESIG Global Success, one of the schools of the university of Lomé present at the fair, Anadolu Agency asked the question.
“A university school is also an institution that needs the ability to be seen and meet partners. We train young people in our schools to make them available to different companies that need qualified labor. So it’s fair game that we take advantage of this kind of opportunity to meet partner companies or maybe become one,” he replied.
He also affirmed that “this fair, which brings together more than 1,000 companies, is a great opportunity for B2B meeting opportunities with business leaders who are difficult to meet in normal times. We take the opportunity to discuss with them the possibilities of win-win partnership and the profiles they are looking for for their companies or companies”.
“Because we want to train the youth of tomorrow who truly participate in the creation of national wealth. And not those who will increase unemployment in the country,” argued Sédzro.
Finally, for some of the cross-site visitors, the difficult times of Covid-19 are over. Put in the environment. And we want to make the most of it.
“I don’t come to buy. I come to enjoy the atmosphere every night after work. It de-stresses me. A beer while listening to music and seeing all the animation in front of me really cheers me up before going home ,” the fair site confession, an officer sipped his drink.
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