The 5th ECOWAS Trade Fair rounded off in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Saturday with the organisers giving the mandate to host the next edition in 2010 to Cote d’Ivoire.
In a speech at the closing, ECOWAS Commission President Mohamed Ibn Chambas expressed satisfaction that the goals set for the fair had, for the most part, been achieved.
”I am delighted to report that this edition of the ECOWAS Trade Fair has lived up to the established billing of being one of the most effective tools for achieving our regional economic growth and integration,” declared Dr. Chambas, who was represented by Commission Vice President Jean de Dieu Somda..
He recalled the challenge posed by obstacles to effective information dissemination, and said it must be tackled in order to facilitate true intra-Community trade, consistent with the theme of the fair – ”Consolidating Intra-Community Trade through Information, Communication and Technology (ICT)”.
In this regard, he expressed delight that the trade fair succeeded in organising different workshops, seminars, meetings and conferences, which looked at different aspects of ICT in trade transactions in the global and the regional economy.
The ECOWAS boss also lauded the organisation of ‘National Days’, which served as strategic meeting points for business relationship building, establishment of trade contacts and conclusion of business deals.
In another speech, the Burkinabe Minister for Trade, Industry and Handicrafts, Mamadou Sanou, said the fair offered an opportunity to better display the significant improvements made in the design and manufacture of commercial products, among others.
He also noted the upsurge of a new generation of young businessmen, the progress recorded in the agro-pastoral and forestry sector towards meeting market demands as well as the modernization of handicrafts to meet both national and international standards, even while maintaining those specific qualities that make their Africanness distinctive.
In spite of these achievements, the Minister said efforts must be made to address the weaknesses ”in our production system and ensure sustainable growth”.
An ECOWAS statement said a key high highlight of the closing ceremony was the launching of ECOBIZ (ECOWAS Business Centre), which manages business opportunities in Member States.
ECOBIZ is the new version of SIGOA-TOPS (Trade Opportunities Management System), which is an intra-Community ICT trade promotion tool.
Eleven of the 15 ECOWAS Member States participated in the 5th ECOWAS Trade Fair, which had 427 stalls covering a total space of more than 2,000 square metres allocated to some 550 exhibitors.
Over 200 economic operators comprising corporate organisations and private enterprises from both the formal and informal sectors as well as six regional organisations from across West Africa also took part in the fair, which registered benefits including a 56 million francs CFA daily turn-over, the signing of 4,700 contracts, the confirmation of 2,600 bids and the presence of some 40,000 visitors each day.
Since its launch in Dakar, Senegal in 1995, the ECOWAS Trade Fair has been held in Accra, Ghana (1999), Lome, Togo (2003) and Lagos, Nigeria (2005). Panapress.