Kenya Solo Exhibition, Kinshasa, DR Congo, 5-9th February 2013
The Export Promotion Council in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade, the Kenya Embassy in DRC in Kinshasa, relevant public and private sector institutions, spearheaded the preparation and participation of Kenya’s premier Solo Exhibition and Business Forum in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo from 5th to 9th February, 2013.The event was informed by the findings of the market survey undertaken earlier in DRC which were disseminated in a seminar in Nairobi late last year.
The event had a three tier approach namely the Solo exhibition, Business forum and bilateral trade engagements designed to:
•    Offer an opportunity to the business community better understand the market and hence sharpen the participating companies strategies in producing market-led products
•    Enhance their brand and corporate images and provide marketing support to the distributors;
•    Launch and test-market new products; seek out new contacts and business leads and gauge the competition in the DRC market
•    Provide forum for businesses and policy makers from the two countries to discuss how trade between the two countries can be enhanced as well as finding solutions to barriers that may impede the smooth flow of goods and services between the two countries.
•    Offer real business opportunities for sustained market penetration for Kenya’s private sector companies through Government – to - Government (G-2-G) interaction, facilitate business partnerships and trade networking at the Business-to-Business (B-2-B) Level.
The DRC Market is the 10th leading export destination for Kenya’s export of goods and services in 2011. The trade relations between the two countries have grown progressively with the value of Exports rising from Kshs.4.29 Billion in 2001 to Kshs.12.79 Billion in 2010 and to Kshs.17.5 Billion in 2011 as per the Kenya Economic Survey of 2012.

The Kenya Solo exhibition dubbed KESOLEX was widely publicized both in the print and electronic media locally and in the target market. Locally, this event was advertised in the leading daily newspapers, posted in the Council’s website and sent out as trade alert articles. Mail shotsto targeted trade support institutions and companies were sent out as well as personal visits to target companies by Council officers. In the target market on the other hand, the Council partnered with Kenya Airways to brand the venues of the exhibition and business forum in addition to other publicity campaigns on TV and radio spots in French, which were aired during prime time thus ensuring maximum reach to the target group. There was a Road show caravan and Roadside banners erected in strategic locations on major roads and streets leading in and out of Kinshasa. An exhibitor’s catalogue highlighting all participating companies, their products and exhibitor’s profiles and contacts was produced, translated into French and was given out as part of publicity material to the visitors and for future reference.

The following Kenyan sectors were represented at the Exhibition: food and beverages, motor vehicle accessories and parts, footwear, body care products, dairy, meats, pharmaceuticals, water pumps, textile products especially custom made t-shirts, caps, air transport services, hydraulic seals, as well as select products from the EPZ companies. The exhibition offered an excellent  opportunity for Kenyan businesses to showcase their products to the Congolese buyers and enable them  appreciate various product offerings. through spot sales,  sampling, and demonstration.
The Exhibition was attended by various dignitaries from DRC, Kenya Ambassador to DRC, H. E. James Ochami, EPC Chairman, Mr. Hudson Aluvanze and Chief Executive, Ruth Mwaniki. Congolese music icon, Mbilia Bel was invited and performed at the exhibition as part of the publicity and crowd pulling strategy given the important role music plays in the Congolese social life.
The Kenya Solo Exhibition (Kesolex) in Kinshasa DRC was successful and well received by the market. It enhanced product knowledge for Kenyan products, and was a platform for the enhancement of the partnership between Kenya and DRC especially through COMESA. Exhibitors received overwhelming interest on their products and most of them have planned return visits to the market in the near future. It was noted that Kenyan products need to be developed to suit the market requirements; this includes translation into French on the product labels as well as registration of the products in the market.

Business Forum

The Forum took place at Hotel Venus and was officiated by the Ambassador of Kenya to DRC Congo, H.E. Ambassador James Ochami. The Key note address was delivered by the representative of the Minister for Trade Government of Kenya, Mr. Joseph Kosure, Senior Assistant Director, External Trade, the Chairman EPC, Mr. Hudson Aluvanze and the CEO, Madam Ruth Mwaniki. The DRC attendants were led by the Director of Commerce, Government of the DRC, The Executive officer of The National Agency for Investment Promotion ANAPI, and The CEO of Federation of Enterprises DRC Congo. They were joined by some Kenyan business people who attended the forum and had fruitful engagements with their Congolese counterparts.

The salient message delivered during the business forum to the delight of the Congolese counterparts was that Kenya was ready and able to trade with the DRC due to the proximity of the two nations to each other compared to other existing source markets for DRC, Kenya has a vibrant manufacturing sector that can supply quality product requirements of DRC, Kenya is ready to set up distribution structures to service the Congo market through a warehouse, Kenya will facilitate Congolese business people to also set up in Kenya in potential areas of investment. The emphasis of the Business Forum was in line with the over-all theme of the event promoting cooperation among African countries through trade and Investment.

Bilateral Meetings
During the event, bilateral discussions were held between the two Government representatives; the Ministry of Trade Kenya and the Ministry of Economy of DR Congo. The discussions centered on the draft Bilateral Trade Agreement as well as the establishment of a warehouse to support distribution of Kenyan goods in that market. This facility once established will go a long way in boosting the penetration of Kenyan goods in the DRC market as well as ensuring that the market gets constant supply of Kenyan products continually.
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