On the Spot – Otavi Expo – Growing Bigger and Better

THE town of Otavi with its inhabitants of about 12 000 people is hosting the second Annual Otavi Investment Expo and Festival this week. Otavi is situated in the Otjozondjupa Region and is the district capital of the Otavi electoral constituency.

The district was in the past renowned for its mineral wealth but most of the deposits have now been exhausted. Prior to the opening of the Ohorongo Cement Factory a few kilometres outside Otavi much of the town’s economy relied mainly on Namib Mills.

There are several government ministries and state-owned enterprises operating from Otavi, while there are a few privately owned grocery and other retail outlets.

Otavi is a farming area surrounded by farms of prominent politicians, most notably the Founding Father, Dr Sam Nujoma, President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Cabinet members and business personalities. New Era’s Senior Business Journalist, Edgar Brandt, talked to the organiser of the Otavi Expo, Rino Muranda, on how the expo is benefitting the town.

New Era (NE): Please give us some background on the Otavi Expo?

Rain Muranda (RM): “Well, the objectives of the expo are to provide Otavi with an annual calendar event for businesses, small and medium enterprises and individuals to showcase their products and services. We also want to market the strategic importance of Otavi and the investment opportunities in the town.

We aim to stimulate the local economy through this expo and to use the expo as a platform to offer a one-stop service centre for government ministries, agencies and offices as well as the private sector to Otavi residents.

Otavi currently has a limited number of services so at least once a year we can bring the services to the people. Overall we also want to boost interest in the town and to create temporary employment to the youth in the area.”

Who are the founders of the Otavi Expo?

“The expo is a public-private partnership between the Otavi Town Council and a company called the Otavi Investment Expo and Festival cc.”

How has the expo affected the town?

“Since this is the second year of the expo we can clearly see that the expo is boosting the economy of the town. Visitors to the expo are here to spend some disposable income and there has been a renewed interest in land development in and around Otavi. Small and medium enterprises are also taking aantage of the opportunities presented by the expo.”

How would you describe the calibre of exhibitors at the expo?

“Exhibitors include reputable corporates, leading state-owned enterprises as well as giants in Namibia’s business world. We also have many SMEs that represent manufacturing, handmade items, garments and traditional attire. It is definitely worthwhile in terms of participation.

One of the most notable mentions is that this expo doesn’t have a flurry of cheap Chinese goods, so overall we are happy with the quality of the exhibitors.”

How does the expo promote the Maize Triangle where Otavi is located?

“Otavi and surrounding areas have been dependent on the Maize Triangle but at the expo we are trying to diversify the economy to showcase everything the town has to offer.”

How does the expo uplift the farming community in and around Otavi?

“As yet we do not have an agricultural section at the expo. However, as the event gradually grows and we see that there is interest from the farming community then we will definitely consider including an agricultural focus.”

Does the Otavi Expo compete directly with other fairs in the area such as the Tsumeb Copper Festival?

“No, the expo does not at all compete with similar events in the area and in fact plays a complimentary role to other events as we have carved a niche for ourselves. This is one of the reasons that the expo is held at this time of the year, outside what is traditionally known as ‘expo season’.”

How is this year’s Otavi Expo different from last year’s event?

“The expo has grown in leaps and bounds since last year. This year we also introduced an investment conference that is being attended by leading business personalities as well as people in and around Otavi.

This conference is tackling the questions of how businesses contribute to the Otavi economy as well as mass housing and access to land in the area.

This year we have also introduced a comedy slot with famous South African comedian, Loyiso Gola, scheduled to perform tonight (Friday). The expo has also moved to the Otavi sports grounds, which is much bigger than the community hall we used last year.”

How many exhibitors are participating at this year’s event, how many visitors are expected and how does this compare to last year?

“Last year we had 55 exhibitors and this year we have more than doubled that to 120 exhibitors. The number of visitors last year were between 3 000 and 4 000 and this year we expect to double this figure.”

What are the costs associated with hosting the expo and what are your main revenue generators?

“The costs associated with the expo add up to roughly under N$1 million. In terms of revenue generation we rely on sponsorships, gala dinners, ticket sales and pledges by individuals.”

What do you foresee for the future of the Otavi Expo?

“The Otavi Expo can only grow and get bigger and better and for the future we expect the expo to compete with the best of the best.”

Source : New Era