The Ethiopian New Year Expo held last month was the first such event the Addis Abeba Exhibition Centre had hosted in nearly a year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eyoha Addis Entertainment organised the Expo after winning a bid for 46.7 million Br.

Betahon Special Events Plc, a new entrant in the event organising industry, has grasped a deal to host the Christmas and Easter expos at the Addis Abeba Exhibition Centre after offering an unprecedented 111 million Br.

Betahon was one of five companies in a bid in August this year, offering 68 million Br to host the Christmas bazaar and 43 million Br for the Easter expo. The offer is 65pc higher than the previous record of 67 million Br offered for the two events.

Eyoha Addis Entertainment, an industry veteran, was runner-up, offering a total of 72 million Br to host the two events. Eyoha, established in 2015 with 50,000 Br capital, has organised eight major expos thus far, including the Ethiopian New Year Expo held at the Exhibition Centre last month. It hosted the event after bidding 46.7 million Br earlier this year.

The Exhibition Centre & Market Development Enterprise has awarded Betahon the contracts for the two upcoming events, scheduled for this coming December and in April 2022. The company has made a down payment of 20pc of the total amount. The inordinate bids have drawn the criticism of some in the industry. But Betahon's management remains contented with the outcome, hoping the expos will attract 30,000 people a day.

"We hope to rent 40pc of the space to international companies," said the company in a statement, disclosing it has started renting booths.

The trade fairs will attract between 1.5 million and 2.5 million visitors, and both events are expected to see transactions of over 750 million Br, according to Betahon. The event organiser plans to ask vendors close to 14,000 Br a square metre, 11pc higher than the fee Eyoha charged for the recent New Year expo.

Kaleb Assefa is a trader of kitchen appliances who took part in the New Year Expo held last month. He worries that business people like him will be put off by hefty fees Betahon needs to charge to make the margins.

"It's a bit inconsiderate of the Ethiopian context and the current circumstances," said Kaleb.

A shipment of stoves Kaleb ordered to be delivered in September has yet to be shipped due to the global shortage of containers that occurred in the wake of lockdowns and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Importers struggle to transport their goods, mainly from ports in China, where the most acutely felt shortage.

Endalkachew Bekele is a marketing expert in the event organising industry. He lays the blame for the exaggerated offers on the Enterprise, a company under the Addis Abeba Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Associations that manages the Centre in a deal with the Addis Abeba City Administration. The Enterprise expects 10pc increases on offers every year.

The Exhibition Centre, which took a series of hits due to the pandemic and then the construction of the Mesqel Square project, did not host any expos for nearly a year. However, it earned 97 million Br in revenues last year, mainly from collecting rental fees from the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), which had used the venue as a storage site.

The Enterprise`s managment appears to be pleased seeing a novice surfaced, with the demonstrated capacity of depositing 20pc of the bid amount.

"We`re glad to see a new company on the scene," said Tilahun Tadesse, general manager of the Enterprise.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 16,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1120]

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