Africa fair spices up TICAD venue

by Mami Maruko

Staff Writer

Garments and baskets woven in bright colors, spicy cuisine and energetic music played on traditional instruments are livening up the vast Pacifico Yokohama convention center in Yokohama.

As a side event to the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, African Fair 2013 started Thursday and runs through the end of the conference on Monday. The fair features booths from 46 African countries.

Shuri Nishino, 33, of Nagano Prefecture, who is scheduled to fly to the western African nation of Benin this fall under a volunteer program arranged by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, wanted to check out Benin’s booth.

“I just love the beat of the African drums, the colorfulness of the African garments, and the beautiful and lively women in Africa,” she said.

Visitors to the fair are seeing today’s Africa, how its economy has grown this century and what kinds of business opportunities it has for Japanese companies.

Jointly organized by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Japan External Trade Organization, the fair offers sales and exhibitions of specialties from different nations, various cultural and music events, and seminars.

Japanese businesses will have a chance to hold initial talks with companies from African countries.

Under the slogan “Discover. Feel. The new dawn of Africa. Business opportunities and cultural brilliance,” African products successfully imported to Japan through JETRO projects, such as fruit and shea butter oil, are also featured.

Hiroaki Sato of Mitaka, Tokyo, who came to the event with his wife, said he got interested in the fair through an acquaintance who lives and teaches karate in Zimbabwe.

“I would like to visit him some day,” Sato, 71, said with a smile.

For more information on the African Fair, visit www.jetro.go.jp/events/af2013 .