Due to the economic crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic, most of the government agencies and ministries did not participate in the Okahandja expo, citing financial constraints.
This was revealed by Okahandja CEO Alfons Tjitombo yesterday in an interview during the opening day of the town’s expo.
Tjitombo said although the municipality marketed the expo in a very short time, they have used a new strategy.
“The decision was taken on short notice, but with the new marketing strategy we have used, we managed to attract 85 exhibitors, compared to the 65 we had in 2019. Our officers hand-delivered the invitation letters to exhibitors and also made various phone calls to follow up on the responses. That is how we have attracted most of the exhibitors if not all,” he said.
The CEO further explained financial challenges hampered the smooth organisation of the expo.
“The health ministry has responded positively and is here raising awareness campaigns for the Covid-19 vaccination. At least they are using the opportunity to get more people vaccinated,” he said.
Agriculture and Youth have positively responded and are part of the expo; the latter will entertain the youth with a boxing bonanza on Saturday.
The marketing officer, Maggy Sheya, said the organising committee faced challenges, as most businesses in the towns do not want to take part in the expo.
“We are not going to mention the names but most of those corporate and private businesses do not like to take part. We have been fighting to get them on board for the past 12 years but our efforts were fruitless,” she said.
However, this year, they managed to get local biltong producer Closwa on board.
When New Era visited the expo, most of the exhibitors were setting up and getting ready for business.
Those who spoke to New Era had mixed feelings about the expo, saying the municipality has increased the price of stalls.
Ndahafa Shapumba, a regular exhibitor, said she is happy the municipality has decided to bring back the trading expo to boost their income; however, the stall prices increased from N$1 000 to N$1 200.
“I am not so sure if we can make the profit we desire, as there are changes in this year’s expo. Normally, we sell our food and drinks together – and now, this year, there is the demarcation of which alcohol traders are completely removed from the food sellers. I am not sure if we can make money. We are facing financial challenges, as a country and most people lost their jobs due to Covid-19,” she said.
Another exhibitor Kauko Shikongo was cautiously optimistic over her chances to make a profit.
Sheya defended the registration fees, saying the decision was prompted by the budget cut.
The expo will run from Wednesday to Saturday, and the official opening will be today by the patron of the expo, Speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi.