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China week exhibition a precursor to industrial takeoff in East Africa

Updated: 2016-06-08 22:44
By Lucie Morangi (chinadaily.com.cn)
Over 400 Chinese companies are expected to participate in the second China Trade Week exhibition set for June 29- July 1 in Nairobi.

This year's event is expected to further links initially developed last year, which the organizer, MIE Group, termed as "very successful". According to David Wang, managing director of MIE Events, about $30 million in business was signed up during the previous event.

"We have noted a significant uptake by Chinese organizations to exhibit in Kenya. We have doubled the number of Chinese firms this year," he said while addressing journalists today about the upcoming event that will be held at the Kenyatta International Conference Center.

The three-day event is designed to provide Chinese companies with a unique opportunity to meet, discuss and develop trading and business partnerships with both Kenyan entrepreneurs and the region's business community across various commercial sectors.

"I believe the event offers an ideal platform for African and Chinese manufacturers to negotiate. In line with the Belt and Road initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping, exhibitions are usually the first step towards realizing an industrial takeoff," Wang said.

He explained that after forging links during exhibitions, Chinese entrepreneurs would want to establish a presence in the local market to offer after-sales services. This will generate the need to set up industrial plants to ensure they are closer to the market and adapt quickly to emerging needs.

"We strongly believe that this event will provide an opportunity for Kenyan entrepreneurs to grow strong business partnerships with their Chinese counterparts and benefit from the industrial overcapacity and a wealth of knowledge from China, while sharing Kenyan business best practices with their Chinese counterparts," Wang said.

He is optimistic that more business deals will be realized this year. Daily sourcing seminars have been held to answer queries from local entrepreneurs on how best to avoid hurdles such as middlemen and limited sourcing and how to cut down costs of traveling to China.

"We are encouraging business to business meetings by asking prospective local clients to register online. This will ensure that we pair them to the right Chinese manufacturers and also avoid going through the long queues that we witnessed last year," said Michelle Meyrick, MIE's international events director. .

More than 16,500 people attended the exhibition last year and many complained of the limited time given for the exhibition. But MIE said this year's event will increase registration points from four to 14. To beef up security, 160 personnel have been hired, while volunteers also have been sourced to ease any communication barrier between the exhibitors and visitors.

"But most of the Chinese businesspeople understand and communicate in English very well. This will not be a problem. Moreover, their requirements for distributors are refined and hence we expect more deals to be struck easily this year," Wang said.

Most of the Chinese businesses sought local distributors who had established businesses and could purchase two to three 48-foot shipping containers worth of goods. Business people coming out of Nairobi found these requirements to be prohibitive.

Hoteliers are optimistic business will be booming during trade week, as more than 500 Chinese business people will be in town.

"We have booked most rooms in the nearby hotels. They are all full," Wang said.

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