Aba, a city in Abia State, has been the commercial nerve centre of Eastern Nigeria since the 40’s and 50’s. The city has been a hub for huge trade and business transactions; it is commonly said that anything you seek, is obtainable in Aba. This is the haven of proudly made in Nigeria products, and home to many industries; small, medium, and large scale manufacturers of machinery and auto spare parts, shoes, clothing, pharmaceuticals, plastics, machinery, building materials, cables, beverages, and list is endless.
Aba is surprisingly not the state capital considering its economic strength. Its people are very creative, and industrious; they have embraced entrepreneurship and local manufacturing, as a way of life for decades, and generations after generations have consistently imbibed the same entrepreneurial spirit.
The typical Aba indigene exudes rugged ingenuity, hard work and dedication; they produce everything that can be made locally and pride themselves, in their products, referring to the city as, ‘Taiwan of Africa’. Although many of them churn out imitation foreign products and label them as such, traders from neighboring countries patronize the markets.
These indigenous industrialists manufacture their wares without much government assistance, such as grants and subsidies; they doggedly parade finished goods in all nooks and crannies of the city. We cannot leave out mechanical spare part fabrications of all makes and models of cars and machinery, and of course, the traders at Ariaria International Market must be mentioned as well.
While we recognize the recent efforts being made by Abia State Government towards developing Aba as an Industrial City, adequate infrastructure, intervention, financial and technical support should be granted by governments, and relevant organizations to transform ‘Made in Aba’, which could set in motion an engine for the Nigerian economic recovery and development. After which, these locally manufactured products could compete effectively with those from other parts of the world. Also, local support for the these manufacturers, acceptance of quality standard finished goods by the public and private sector, and export of same will help achieve lofty economic objectives.
In all economies, small industries are vital for sustained economic growth, and Nigeria is no exception. Recognizing these opportunities, one wonders why:
- Aba has not received the necessary face-lift in terms the enabling infrastructure to make it a world class commercial centre?
- ‘Made in Aba’ has not been embraced and launched as a massive state and national project?
- Aba has been considered/granted the status of a Free Trade Zone?
- Significant export proceeds are not being realised after all the years of existence of these industries?
‘Made in Aba’ has survived, despite many deterents and high failure rate of similar industries nationwide.
In the face of our current economic challenges, is in order to say it is Time for a Paradigm Shift?