By Lamin Jaiteh
The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry GCCI International trade fair has again filled the whole fairgrounds at the independence stadium in Bakau. The event is usually held once a year. I had the chance to visit the fairground over the Easter break, and over 300 exhibitors from The Gambia and other countries in West Africa present their products and services in temporary stands and stalls.
As I entered the fair, I was amazed: There was the manifest presence of grandeur and beauty everywhere. The entire show was flooded with music from numerous sound systems blasting from different corners. As I walked a few steps, I noticed two TAF Africa Global sample houses made out of wood right in the centre.
First I entered the two-bedrooms and then the three-bedroom bungalow situated nearby, which were all tastefully decorated. The team there told me they have been working endlessly to offer affordable homes to everyone.
Next to them was an array of stalls displaying garments and accessories. I showed a keen interest in each of them. I was delighted to see the products of local companies. I visualised the Gambia as an emerging nation with promises of prosperity and progress.
Then I visited the stalls, selling cosmetics, bangles, clothing and other fashion accessories. I even bought a shirt and khaki trousers from STYLE IN YOU, a budding fashion design business enterprise whose CEO Madeline Mendy told me her business is a fashion design enterprise created to provide young and upcoming Gambians and non-Gambians a choice in a dress that will convey a lifestyle of confidence, initiative and creativity.
The Gambia International fair was also a battleground for GSM phone companies and consumer electronics businesses to fight for visibility. A few hundred yards to the south of the main entrance is the Africell stand showcasing their Real 4G network services. The supersonic sound system from that stand drowns almost all nearby miniature sound systems around.
Opposite the Africell stand is a stall stocked with medicinal items claiming to be a remedy for curious ailments ranging from sexual problems to diabetes, infertility and general cure for many illnesses. Perhaps the most unusual is the one that is acclaimed to be most effective for buttocks enhancement.
As I was walking past the food-courts, the smell of sizzling chicken legs tickled my nostrils. I wished I could enjoy some mouth-watering Afra But my friend Lamin Cham was with me and was too eager to sample them and wasn’t happy when I told him it was time to go home for another day. I had to persuade by offering to buy him with a plate of grilled fish doused with a touch of lime and sliced onions.
At last, it was time for me to come out of the fair, leaving behind the world of dreams, colours, sounds, food and fantasies.
Such was the scene at the Stadium, as the Gambia International Trade Fair takes centre stage. People from all walks of life pay a nominal fee to enter the exhibition centre where they can either buy products and services or establish contacts and network with entrepreneurs and business people at the exhibition. The president of the Republic, Adama Barrow on Monday afternoon paid a visit to the centre and chatted to some stall owners and business people there.
The chairman of the Trade Fair committee Bajara Jabbi in a recent meeting with the press said the theme for this year’s fair is “Economic Transformation for Gambian Business Empowerment”.
The main exhibition categories are agricultural products, banking and finance, fashion and cosmetics, food items, IT and telecommunication, real estate and software engineering.
GCCI Founded in 1967. It is a non-profit member-driven organisation that facilitates business development, promotes trade, and advances the interests of Gambia business nationally and abroad.
It is recognised as an authoritative voice for Gambian investment by the Government of the Gambia and regional and international bodies.
GCCI holds trade fairs and business networking events to enable networking and showcasing opportunities.
The 2018 exhibition, which started on March 24th, ends on 15th April.