African Cobblers spearheads automation of Aba-made shoes
…sets up modern shoe factory in Ariaria finished leather cluster (FLC)
The dream to automate shoe production in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, is coming to fruition, as African Cobblers Limited, an indigenous shoe manufacturing firm, has established a mechanized shoe manufacturing facility in Powerline Shoe cluster, in Ariaria.
The berthing of African Cobblers in Ariaria business corridor, would innovate shoe production processes, ensure seamless production and remove drudgery, which is associated with manual production.
The facility, which is expected to roll out its initial products this week with 20 staff and production capacity of 500 pairs of shoes per day, would also provide services to other shoemakers in the Aba finished leather cluster (FLC), Ken Anyanwu, managing director, African Cobblers Limited, stated.
Anyanwu, who has over 40 years experience in shoe production, explained that African Cobblers is in Aba to transform the shoe industry and enable the operators to compete favourably with shoe products from Italy, Spain, Brazil, among others.
Anyanwu, observed that it will be impossible for the Aba finished leather cluster to export formally, without standardizing their production processes, noting that the cluster needs modern equipment and raw materials to enable it produce quality products that can compete favourably in the international market.
According to him, “Talking about export without equipment is not feasible, because we cannot meet deadline”.
He however noted that the berthing of African Cobblers has set tone to automation and standardization of Aba-made shoes.
He stressed that the cluster operators need machines, access to cheap funds and raw materials, like quality leather, fibre and strong gums, to produce quality products that can compete favourably in any market.
“Right now, we don’t have the capacity to compete in the international market, because we don’t have the equipment to produce seamlessly and meet customers demand.
“If you have capacity to meet demand and supply, then you’ll start looking for market outside, but when your quality is substandard and you cannot meet customers demand, you shouldn’t be talking about export. Where will you be exporting to? Except you want to export to lesser African countries.
“But if you want to make real money, like promoters of Nexportrade are suggesting, then you should be exporting to the international market, where your product will be competing with products from Italy, Brazil, Spain, among others.
“For me what we really need is to standardize our products and then export to Europe and America. Our products are already in Togo and Cameroun, but we are not making all the money, because they are buying low quality cheap products”, Anyanwu stated.