BusinessDay

Aba shoemakers, others enjoying a boom

The Aba finished leather sector (FLS) is enjoying a boom, because of the sudden interest and campaign for made-in-Nigeria goods, by Abia State Government, Ken Anyanwu, national secretary, Association of Leather and Allied Industrialists of Nigeria (ALAIN), told BusinessDay.
The Aba FLS, comprising shoe, belt and bag makers, has 14 clusters, situated at the Ariaria business corridor of Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State.
Anyanwu, appealed to the Federal Government to include capacity building for artisans, in the real sector policy, as well as the mechanization of their operations.
He also called for reintroduction of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG), to encourage non-oil export in the country and especially, Aba.
According to him, “people will be willing to document their exports, if the EEG programme is reintroduced. It will also help the federal government to get actual data of exports from Aba, for policy purposes.
“We need to mechanize our production process, by bringing in modern equipment. Once we get the right equipment, then we can produce to meet demand of our patrons,” he said.
Abia State Government says it has attracted about N1.6 billion worth of demand for shoes and garments, through its campaign on Made-in-Aba goods.

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This includes 50,000 pairs of military boots, ordered by the Nigerian Army, the cost of which is estimated at N300 million, order from the Nigerian Navy, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Police and Civil Defence.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, who revealed this in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay in Umuahia, the State capital, explained that the vision of the State is to be globally competitive.
To make that happen, he said the state government is creating an enabling environment for business to thrive, starting with the establishment of Abia Investment House, known as the One-Stop-Shop.
The essence of the one-stop-shop according to the Governor is to remove bottlenecks in the registration of businesses and processing of documents to improve on the ease of doing business.
Ikpeazu also explained that his administration has secured 9,000 hectares of land in Ukwa, for the establishment of Enyimba Industrial Zone, which is seeking recognition as an export free trade zone.
According to him, “It is the best location for a free trade zone in the country. It is 30 minutes away from Onne Port, in Rivers State, 30 minutes away from the Port Harcourt Airport and about 40 minutes away from Owerri Airport.
“It has a rail line from Rivers State that crosses 13 stations in Abia, to Enugu and to the Northern part of Nigeria. And it has gas for energy. There is no other location anywhere in Nigeria that can compare with what we have, in terms of economic strategy.
“And we went to China with this story and seven days after our visit to China, 11 companies came and we are talking with them, including the shoe manufacturing firm that is coming with $1.5 billion investment,” Ikpeazu said.
GODFREY OFURUM, Aba

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