Traders explain that extended curfew hours reduced time exhibitors and clients had to spend at the expo ground in Gikondo and some banned activities all reduced the propensity to buy.
Kalisa Umri who was showcasing decorative accessories explained that many buyers used to visit the expo after working hours but for this time would find grounds closed around 6pm.
“We were obliged to leave by the time clients usually visit the expo. It didn’t go well compared to the previous exhibitions. For instance, I paid Rwf 7 million for a stand expecting to get Rwf 10 million from sales but recovered Rwf 2 million only. This evidences how exhibitors experienced huge losses,” he said.
Manirareba Theophile, an employee at TECNO mobile also highlighted that the directive to close the expo at 6pm reduced clients’ participation and buying potential.
“Generally, there was minimal participation but those who got time to visit our stands left some coins. Things didn’t go well like the previous year but we understand the reasons considering the current context when Coronavirus has hit the world affecting many activities,” he said.
Entertainment activities were banned at the 2020 expo as part of COVID-19 preventive measures. Manirareba explained that such activities would attract large number of visitors coming with kids and later visited different stands to shop.
He said the directives also reduced expected number of visitors.
The spokesperson of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), Ntagengerwa Theoneste said the federation should not be blamed for losses noting that some exhibitors made sales that they have started booking stands for the next edition.
“Based on feedback from exhibitors we spoke to, no one claimed huge losses that would push them to close down businesses. Only beer companies and others providing entertainment services were affected but we interacted with them that no one can attribute his loss to PSF. He/she might have earned minimal profits but without losses,” he said.
The 23rd International Trade Fair that ran runs from 11th to 31st December 2020 was attended by 382 exhibitors including 73 foreigners.
It was organized under strict COVID-19 control measures that banned the attendance of beer companies.
All expo goers were required to pay by digital means; children below 12 were not allowed to attend while physical entertainment activities were also prohibited as part of ongoing measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.