The Aba shoe industry project in South-East Nigeria is heading for the global market with daily export figures of one million pairs to other African countries, the President of Abia Think Tank Association, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, has said.
Ohuabunwa , who stated this during a press conference ahead of a two-day economic summit in Aba, said that the shoemakers produce quality that compares with the Italian brands, adding that despite leading the Africa market, they are yet to have a presence outside the continent.
“We have started forming the shoemakers into cooperative societies so that they can have access to funding from development finance institutions like the Bank of Industry as well as capacity building and linkage to international market,” he said.
He explained that when he was in Aba where they make shoes billed for Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Gabon even to Zaire, disclosing that over one million pairs of shoes are exported daily out of Aba.
“I found out that they were doing the work without support from anybody. But when I calculated their returns on those investments, I found it was peanuts. They work like elephant but eat like ant. They sweat to bring in their ingenuity but because they are not properly harnessed, the return on investments is meagre,” he said.
The former Chairman of the Economic Summit Group lamented that one of the greatest problems facing made-in-Nigeria products is the lack of policy backing by the government.
“When products made in Nigeria are patronised by government and ordinary people then more goods will be produced, wealth created and prosperity will be spread among Nigerians,” he said.
He stated that once the made-in-Nigeria policy is sustained, the medium and long-term percentage of Nigeria’s manufactured products in composite of export will increase and the percentage of total imported goods will decrease.
Ohuabunwa added that if the policy is properly implemented, there will be wealth creation and more employment in Nigeria.
He urged Nigerians to develop confidence in Made-in-Nigeria products and trade on the products in order to facilitate more productivity in the country.
Ohuabunwa pointed out that Aba remains the economic and industrial hub of the eastern states and Nigeria with great potentialities yawning for exploitation.
He explained that the forthcoming summit with the theme, “Aba as the Centerpiece of Abia Economic Renaissance” will consolidate and deepen the gains of the previous edition and maintain the momentum by focusing attention of private and public sectors in Aba to resolve a veritable and strategic roadmap for the state’s development.