The 7th African Arts and Crafts (AFAC) Expo, in Abuja, FCT, Nigeria has attracted unprecedented number of exhibitors with and outside the continent of Africa. Every state of the federation was represented through their Ministry of Art and Culture. The annual event was initiated by Nigerian government under the aegis of National Council for Arts and Culture in Abuja, FCT, Nigeria because the cultural Industries played critical roles in fast tracking the growth of rural economies through the abundant array of crafts and ancillary industries that served as adjunct to farming. These can be found in Ivory, Bronze, Brass, and Glass castings, Pottery, Leather works, Textiles, Basketry etc produced in different parts of the country and distributed largely by itinerant traders in what then served as long distance trade.
The 1st edition held in 2008, and the first three editions had focused on “growing the rural economy through the crafts industry”. This was largely designed to reawaken and re-energize the sector through a well-coordinated plan of action that will attract African craftsmen and women at a forum for sharing ideas, exchange and refinement, as well as attempting to create an organized market as outlet for the sale of these crafts. It also affords relevant stakeholders the opportunities of information sharing with various producers, investors, marketers and entrepreneurs in the industry and a linkage between the financial service sector.
The leader of delegation of Anambra State contingent, Comrade Dr. Peter Okafor said the expo the surest way of diversifying the economy of the nation which has been centered on crude oil over the years. He pointed out that the industry has employed many Nigeria graduates and created ancillary services for many others. “ In Anambra State, there are art and craft clusters like black smiting (Akwa), wood work (Ogbunka), bead making (Onitsha) etc.”, he said. He took news men around the state stand explaining the items show caused by the state contingent.
One of the foreign exhibitors that make the event lively is the Chinese contingent led by Yin Kunsong. Chinese pavilion has lots of art materials ranging from bags made of various materials to cell phones, which attracted many Nigerians as the Chinese stand became a mini phone market. The entire phones on display at the stand were original China phones. Yin Kunsong told our correspondent that the negative report about Nigeria by foreign media nearly discouraged from attending the expo. According to him, event on ground has shown the all the reports about Nigeria are falsehood. He said Nigerians are hardworking and friendly people. He disclosed that there is cordial bilateral trade agreement between Nigeria and China.
The leader of the Philippines contingent to the expo Beth Foroozan commended the organizers of the expo for the peaceful atmosphere at the event venue. She said all the items at their stand were capable of making people if the learn how to make them. She revealed that business people in her country are ready to train Nigerians on how to produce all the items of display at the Philippines pavilion.
The highly attended 2014 expo will come to an end on the 26th of July, 2014.