The Ministry of Trade to have a permanent trade fair centre to enable entrepreneurs and investors across the country showcase their products and services in a bid to boost the economy. Ms. Christine Ijino, the Director for Trade Fairs at the Ministry of Trade, revealed this during the 2nd Made in South Sudan Exhibition last year.
The Made in South Sudan Exhibition organized by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs is one way of promoting entrepreneurship and domestically produced goods and services. This exhibition enables entrepreneurs and the business community to showcase their products and interact with the general public.
In partnership with the Private Sector and UNDP, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs organized the 2nd Annual Made in South Sudan Exhibition (first exhibition was in May 2017) on the last quarter of 2018 to showcase products manufactured in South Sudan for the general public to appreciate and promote locally made products.
The 2nd Made in South Sudan exhibition envisioned to bring to light potentials of industrial development in the country and, in the long-run, boost economic growth, diversification of the economy (from over reliance on oil production) that contributes towards increased productivity, import substitution and provide alternative source of hard currency.
There are over forty factories operating in Juba producing varieties of products such as bottled and jerry can waters water tank, juice, alcohol and soft drinks, tobacco and cigarette, honey and food snacks, shear butter & cosmetics, iron sheets, paints, detergent and liquid soap, mattresses and furniture.
The exhibition attracts small and medium-sized business and manufacturers, entrepreneurs from various areas of innovation and production comprising food crops, detergents, handicraft, herbal medicinal products, honey, fish & chicken, beauty products (beads made necklace, earrings, bracelet, & handbags, sandals), clothes and handcraft and display of South Sudan culture and heritage and uncover skills.
The Ministry’s objective for the exhibition is to provide for sharing and exchange of experience, information and ideas among the manufacturers as well as to create an enabling environment for interactions and discussions between private and public sectors to deliberate on critical issues affecting businesses and industry in South Sudan.
In an interview with Brisker Magazine, Madam Christine Ijino, the Director for Trade Fairs at the Ministry of Trade said the five-day exhibition had been a success given the short time of marketing and advertising.
“In the two-week of advertisements and registration of exhibitors over forty companies and businesses turned up to register compared to last year. Last year, we had two-months of marketing and about 70 companies exhibited. We have also seen great improvement in term of product services; last year most companies showcased samples of their products and this year many were able to sell their products to the general public,” she explained.
A five-day exhibition may not just be enough despite the desperate need for private development and promotion of domestically produced goods and services. The private sector in South Sudan needs sectoral reforms to gear industrial development and support entrepreneurship in the country.
Director Christine said that her directorate would work hard to create a permanent trade fair centre for entrepreneurs to showcase and sell their products and services.
“Our aim is to develop our entrepreneurs in the country. The challenge many entrepreneurs are facing is having no resource (money) to develop their products and services. However, given a platform and opportunity to showcase and sell their products, they will come into contact with investors and interact with people who have the technical know-how of doing business,” she said.
Some of the challenges mentioned by the Director in organizing the exhibition include few days of marketing or creating awareness about the exhibition to large number of the general public, and high cost of hiring exhibition ground.
“The directorate of trade fair is having to have an open-market at least two-days a week for entrepreneurs to showcase their products and culturally made handcrafts to attract investors, tourists and general public to see and buy from,” Ijino added.