Aba is Nigeria’s major footwear hub and is estimated at over N120 billion. The activities and value of the industry is big enough to affect economic development in the South-east region and encourage trade relationships between various countries and Nigeria.
India one of the fastest growing emerging markets and has its shoe manufacturing hub located in various areas in the country. In 2018, the country became the second largest footwear producer and one of the top 10 exporters. Its export was valued at $2.8 million that year, accounting for approximately 9.6 percent of the total global footwear output annually.
Data from a research and markets site show that in 2017, the global footwear market size was approximately $246.07 billion. Growing at a CAGR of 4.5 percent in the period 2017- 2023, the market is projected to reach $320.44 billion by the end of the forecast period.
While India’s success was not overnight, the government supported the industry through grants and accessible loans. In 2017, the Indian government established the Indian Footwear Leather and Accessories Development Programme (IFLADP) that grants 20-30 percent subsidy for Micro, Small and Medium enterprises ( MSME) for capital expenditure purposes which include building a plant and buying machinery.
Furthermore to encourage the business owners, Rs2, 600 crore ($ 363 million) was set aside as a special package for fuelling the leather and footwear industry and also generate employment. www.businessday.ng Provision was also made for 300,000 people to be trained with the aid of government sponsorship annually.
The federal government needs to give due recognition to the Aba industry which has the capability of fostering economic growth. It can do so through provision of infrastructure to aid output and boost production to meet market demand globally and domestically.
The Indian shoe industry focuses on supplying domestic demand and then meeting global demand. Nigerians should be comfortable patronising made- in- Aba products where they have the same quality as foreign products. Compliance of the Executive Order 003 established by the president, which requires all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government to grant preference to local manufacturers of goods and service providers in the procurement of goods and services, should be taken seriously. This will grow the industry, create jobs, especially for the youth, https://www.facebook.com/businessdayng @Businessdayng and generate wealth for the citizens. Products from Aba should be consumed domestically regardless of the influx of foreign products.
India’s footwear industry is driven by technological innovation and advancement. In line with global best practises and trend, the Aba leather industry must be centered on and driven by technological innovation in its output, design, activities, and branding. This will attract a wider market and improve patronage.
Furthermore, branding and marketing strategy must be indigenous and domesticated. Findings reveal that artisans in Aba brand their products as ‘ made in China’ in order to boost market reach and improve patronage locally and globally. While it might serve its function, it kills the prospects of boosting Nigerian-made products and has negative impacts on local consumption of goods.
Shoemakers will need to work on rebranding and repackaging of their products for higher and wider consumer attraction/ acceptability.
“Branding is important because it helps to change the perception of consumers who think that Aba products are
@Businessdayng inferior,” said Amanchukwu Nwankwo, a shoemaker in Aba.
The industry is in need of foreign investors and partners that will foster the much desired growth development.
Ken Anyanwu, national secretary, Association of Leather and Allied Industrialists of Nigeria (ALAIN), told Businessday in Aba that entry of foreign investors and partners into the market would enable the industry to compete globally and make funds for expansion easily accessible.
With the presence of foreign investors, stakeholders in the industry will be exposed to trainings that will inspire new innovations and designs as well as external knowledge from foreign bodies.
Furthermore, access to foreign investors and partners will lead to reduction in infrastructure problems and reduce the lack of necessary machines and instruments. This will provide a platform for industrialisation and increase output.
Taking cue from India’s shoe industry, Aba has the potential to become more significant in economic development calendar and become a more competitive hub.