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Tamale, a good and wonderful host of the 20th edition of Ghana International Trade Fair


The just concluded Ghana International Trade Fair in Tamale, from all indications, was a resounding success; it is abundant proof that given the opportunity, the city and other northern cities for that matter, are capable of hosting international events without a hitch.

For pulling off an event of this magnitude, the organizers of the Fair, the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority and its partner, Ghana International Trade Fair Company deserve a huge pat on the back.

To say that I was flabbergasted, indeed stunned by the decision to host the Fair in Tamale is an understatement. I never once thought this would come to pass given the fact that events of this importance don’t usually take place outside Accra.

For decades, the northern regions have been an afterthought for policy makers in the nation’s capital. Accra has always been the center of attention for obvious reasons; it is the seat of government and the center of commerce, trade and finance.

In other words, Accra’s dominance has suffocated other cities in the country, preventing them from developing and showcasing their potential to domestic and foreign investors.

One would have thought that since this was the very first time the Trade Fair was being hosted by a northern city, it would invariably receive unprecedented press coverage. But sadly, the Ghanaian media treated the event as if it did not have any significance to the people of the north and by extension, to the entire Ghanaian population.

Let us be absolutely frank here, my good friends, there was a media blackout of the Fair. Events of this importance always attract media hounds. It is a fact that the Fair received scant attention from the leading private media organizations in the country. Was it deliberate?

Well, your guess is as good as mine; is it not amazing that those in the media who pounced on SADA two years ago for mismanagement are nowhere to be seen now that the authority has cleaned itself of past transgressions and leading the fight against poverty in the northern regions?

The Fair attracted international companies from as far as China, India and South Africa and as near as Burkina Faso, Togo. and Nigeria, Much of the success of the Fair lies in the fact that it unlocked the potential of the northern regions.

Besides, it was a huge exposure for northern businesses and entrepreneurs and afforded them a once in a life time opportunity to interact with foreign companies, exchange ideas and sell their products.

Many are hoping that the business contact that were made would ultimately lead to bigger and better things not only for northern businesses and companies but also for the people of the regions in terms of job creation and access to the basic necessities of life.

What was it that drew companies from far and wide to grace the Fair with their presence? The answer lies in the north’s potential; its abundant resources and vast tracts of land and the numerous trade and commerce opportunities available to those who dare to explore them. These, sadly, are facts policy makers in Accra frequently elect to ignore when marketing the country to foreign and domestic investors.

I am assuming that by presiding over such a successful international trade fair, the organizers were sending a subtle message to politicians that the disdain and condescension that often characterize much of official policy towards the northern regions should be put to pasture and discarded altogether.

Tamale’s choice as host of the Fair could not have come a better time. It is a recognition that is long overdue and a realization that the northern regions are no longer on the fringes of the Ghanaian society.

In recent times, the regions have come a long way and Tamale’s rapid expansion and growth earned it the moniker –the fast growing metropolis in the West African region. However, the economic and financial picture in the regions is not all rosy.

There are still daunting problems of economic stagnation and poverty. The fact that the President touched on these problems when he addressed the closing ceremony of the Fair was a welcome relief to many. He re-emphasized his government’s commitment to eliminating the stubborn development gap between the north and the south.

The success of the Fair is a vindication of SADA’s efforts to address the perennial problem of underdevelopment in the northern regions and it also demonstrates the zeal, enthusiasm and commitment that infuses the new management team at the authority.


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