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05.09.2005 Business & Finance

African Exhibitions organisers lose exhibitors trust


Accra, Sept. 5, GNA - Four months after registering to take part in the Anglo-African Business and Trade Exhibition in the United Kingdom, more than half of the 80 exhibitors who registered to take part in the event are still stuck in Accra.

This is because the organisers, African Exhibitions, have failed to put in place adequate measures to convince British immigration authorities that the exhibition will be trouble-free. The organisers also failed to demonstrate integrity to the UK consulate in Accra and the other African countries where they canvassed participation for the Exhibition.

The event, originally scheduled to take place from July 27 to July, 2005 in Excel, East London, was cancelled and later rescheduled to run from November 24 to 26, 2005.

Looking highly expectant, a number of the exhibitors who said they had been to the offices of the organisers earlier, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that ever since the postponement was communicated to them, they had been going to the offices of Africa Exhibitions at kokomlemle and spent huge sums in communicating with the organisers on the way forward, especially concerning refund of their monies.

Some of them said African Exhibitions, local representatives of Anglo Africa Exhibitions have been playing "hide and seek" with them and "telling us one story after the other on what they intend to do." "At one time, they said the Chief Executive of the company was coming the UK to take care of the matter, but nearly three months after this, we are now being told in a letter that we should hang on till November to go for the fair when some of us have been refused visas and there is no immediate possibility that we will secure one," said a man who gave his name as Joojo.

Martin Mensah, one of the exhibitors was blunt; "We are tired of their moves and now we want the authorities to know what some business operators are doing to struggling small medium enterprises who want to take advantage of the foreign market opportunities to expand their frontiers."

"I Think I just have to report the matter to the police for them to take care of it and ensure that our monies are refunded to us and quickly too," he added.

When asked how much they were owed, the exhibitors said it ranged from 1,200 pounds to 2,500 pounds.

A letter from Africa Exhibitions Ghana Limited to all the exhibitors and signed by Mahmud Osman, Event Coordinator, ascribed the decision to shift the event to November to the recent bombings in London.

"Therefore, we felt postponing the event will be the right thing to do for everyone to benefit hundred percent," said the letter.

But Mensah, like other disappointed exhibitors, explained that he was no longer interested in taking part in the fair and wanted a refund. "I do not want to be forced to take part in an event to sell summer items in winter," in an apparent reference to the November date for the event.

On refunds, the organisers told the GNA that they had committed moneys collected from exhibitors to a space at Excel and did not have the authority to make payments until 21 days after the event.

Reacting to this, the exhibitors said the organisers were being "most illogical" since, on application, they were made to understand that they could have refunds 21 days after the original dates in July. "Besides, the new dates are in winter and we do not see how, we could be pushed into taking part in an event in winter, when we could take part in a summer event elsewhere," Joojo said

"It is just not fair. All we want them to do is to refund our monies to us without any further delay," another exhibitor demanded. The letter from the organisers said they had sent letters to the British High Commission indicating their displeasure on refusal to grant visas and was thus advising exhibitors to re-apply. prospective participants.

"What the local representative usually has to do is to make sure that he at any time holds on to at least 25 per cent of the total sum to take care of any such cases as withdrawals, cancellations and rescheduling that might require refunds of any sort," an industry source told the