The Cross River State Government has announced the launch of the Calabar International Trade Fair (CITF) with the first edition billed to hold in December 2016 as part of activities for the Calabar Carnival.
This was made known at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the management of Tinapa Business Resort and Cliqit, an e-commerce business management and development.
The Cross-River State Commissioner of Finance and Managing Director (MD) of Tinapa, Asuquo Ekpenyong announced that the initiative is aimed at reviving the Tinapa project which he said is not where it was projected to be.
He said: “We have gone through the blueprints, we have identified those issues that prevented Tinapa from going where it should be and we are trying to tackle those issues with a fully detailed plan.
“One of the ways we think we can do that is to have an international trade fair, something that would be around the period when Cross-River would be at its peak in terms of travellers.
“That is the week of the Carnival in December.
“We have chosen that date for obvious reasons in terms of the influx of people and Calabar which should be a major trade hub isn’t where it should be, so, we have partnered with Cliqit.
“They will be bringing their experience and capacity in driving trade traffic to Tinapa and we will provide the resources.
“This platform; Tinapa Business Resort has the capacity to host a lot of trade and businesses and we are trying to use this opportunity of the CITF to showcase the resources Tinapa has.
“I believe that come December 2016, we will put on a great show and something that will be worthy of repeat year-on-year”.
The brain behind the project is Gerald Konwea, the founder/CEO of CliqIt.
He enthused that the carnival was capable of breaking the record for the highest number of vendors at a fair with a targeted vendor population of 10,000.
In Mr. Konwea’s words, “This is going to be arguably the biggest trade fair in the world.
“There are big trade fairs in Germany with up to 7,000 vendors and there are even bigger trade fairs in China.
“Except the numbers are on Chinese websites, there are no numbers on Google or websites that reflect on Google to suggest otherwise.”
“To achieve this feat, we are partnering with the Guinness World Records to execute publicity internationally and prove the trade record we are trying to achieve.”
“We are partnering Red Media to handle our publicity locally and we hope to host the world as we have begun preliminary discussions with every other body and also on both State and Federal level to help us execute this project because this is a big project”.
Asides the obvious tourist gains the project is expected to bring to Cross River State, the Calabar International Trade Fair is also aimed at increasing the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state up to 5 billion naira.
It will introduce up to 15, 000 jobs and 10, 000 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SME’s) and empower people of Cross-River state with skill acquisition and go-to market strategies and ultimately contribute development of the state.
Asides the aforementioned, statistics reeled out by Konwea said the IGR of the state is expected to significantly rise from N12.7 billion to N14.9 billion yearly by 2016 – 2019 and an additional N2 – 5 billion from 2020 onwards.
He said: “This project will also provide gainful employment up to 7,000 and 15,000 by 2023.
“This can be achieved through skill acquisition programs, SME empowerment and support activities and instituting Calabar as a major trade hub in the region by reviving the Tinapa project”.
“Like I said, we are trying to host about 10,000 vendors with let us say at least one person to every vendor, or being modest, about 25,000 people and spectators expected to participate.”
Mr. Konwea further availed that the project is rightly timed as it comes at a time when the drive for made-in-Nigeria products is gaining ground across the country, which according to him will be hugely promoted at the fair.
“We are partnering with the organisers of the Made-in-Aba Trade Fair and we are looking to see a lot of Nigerian creativity in December 2016,” he added.
Mr. Ekpenyong, who revealed to that the trade fair is billed to hold from 20-31 December is the medium term plan of the project.
He said: “We have phased out a plan on what we are doing with Tinapa.
“There is the short-term, which is the immediate for a period of one to three months, there is the medium-term, which is the trade fair and there is the long-term.
“Tinapa has components; there is the hotel, the shops, the games arcade, the water park and the studio. Each of these components is being reviewed.
“There are different phases and the trade fair is just a cut of the holistic picture and that picture will be revealed to the general public. It is a work-in-progress.
As regards security, Mr. Ekpeyong said: “Calabar is one of the safest cities in Nigeria.
“We will be partnering with all the security agencies and with services from the Nigerian Police Force all the way to DSS to ensure that we provide the safe and secure environment for the hosting of this trade fair”.
One other major side attraction of the fair is going to be a one-kilometer red carpet which will play host to entertainers, media houses, journalists, celebrities, government officials and tourists during the course of the Calabar International Trade Fair.