While no doubt many visitors and exhibitors to Meet in Africa in Egypt last month may have conflicting opinions, one visitor told Leather International that: ‘It appears to me that it was a good fair. I anticipated total chaos, whereas I found in reality a well attended fair both by visitors and exhibitors.’

The lion’s share was, of course, the home industry, with the Italian pavilion running a close second. Many Italian visitors were in evidence, mainly to sell, not to buy. There was also a good representation from India, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan. While there were some exhibitors from Eritrea and East Africa, there was only one West African participation, namely from Mali.

Cairo International Exhibition Centre is a huge complex, very suitable for this kind of event. Hotels are a plenty, the transport facilities are reasonable and there are taxis by the thousands. Cairo is easily accessible from North, East, South and West.

In the view of one of the visitors: ‘it is the very first fair I have attended that there were still plenty of visitors (including many non-professionals) also on the last day just before closing hour.’

One should bear in mind, that this was the very first Meet In Africa organised locally without the expert participation of ITC and SIC, although ITC was behind the screens with suggestions and help. Therefore, in spite of some criticism, this was a very positive beginning of the new era Meet in Africa. For the next event it should be hoped that any teething problems will be resolved.

As for business, that’s another matter. Egyptian tanneries are still waiting for the final go for the transfer to the new tanning area. The idea is that the shift will take place in two year’s time, but that might prove to be rather optimistic. Until then Egyptian tanners will not invest in the upgrading of their tanneries, hence also their leather will remain more or less at present levels.

Many shoe factories and leathergoods manufacturers were at the show displaying their wares. It is not known how they fared.

Last but not least, the Egyptian Exporters Association organised a wonderful open air dinner on the evening of the first day featuring local live music. The dinner could be attended by all participants. Buses were organised from the Sheraton Heliopolis. The food was excellent and the setting beautiful at the Cairo Citadel overlooking the town.