From Steve Oko, Umuahia
Abia State Government has explained that its intention in setting up an automated shoe factory in Aba was not to throw local shoe manufacturers out of business contrary to speculations in some quarters.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Job Creation, Mr. Chinenye Nwogu, who made the explanation at a press conference Tuesday in Umuahia, said government’s main objective in the project was rather to provide state -of -art machines to give finishing touches to made-in Abia shoes.
The Special Adviser who disclosed that the factory which has the capacity of producing 7000 pairs of shoes a day would soon commence operation, said the intention was to make made-in -Aba shoes to compete favourably in the international market.
He said that 30 of the shoe makers who were sponsored by the State Government to China for training would be engaged to either work as full time or part time in the factory, adding that all the modern equipment in shoe making have been fully installed at the factory.
“We have fully mounted all kinds of machines we saw in China and one of them is not found anywhere in Africa”, he said.
Nwogu who is also the Governor’s Aide in charge of the proposed Enyimba Economic City noted that “the miracle of shoe making is finishing”, and urged local shoe manufacturers to take advantage of the automated factory to “internationalise” their products instead of seeing it as a competitor.
Presenting the two Abia award winners at the just concluded national Small & Medium Enterprises award in Abuja, Commissioner for SME, Mr. Onyema Nwachukwu, said the state government was passionate about providing necessary support to local entrepreneurs in the state.
He said “Abia is entrepreneurlly-driven economy”, and expressed joy that Gov Okezie Ikpeazu -led administration had leveraged on the advantage to boost the state’s economy.
He said government had made it easy for SMEs in the state to have easy acess to finances besides providing the critical infrastructure including power and access roads to Ariaria industrial clusters.
The Commissioner also commended Gov Ikpeazu for his uncommon quest in promoting made -in-Aba products to the global community.
He thanked the award winners : Mr. Clement Orjinta, a tailor; and Miss Chidinma Erem for making the the state proud through their ingenuity and entrepreneurial prowess.
Earlier, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Onyebuchi Ememanka, had explained that Abia entrepreneurs had always excelled at the Award ceremony since its inception three years ago.
He noted with delight that Abia emerged as the overall Best State in SME at the maiden edition of the event while an Abia, Norah Onwuasoanya, also emerged the Best Female Entrepreneur last year.
Speaking on behalf of the Award winners, Miss Erem, a female that specializes in male shoe making said her orientation and view about shoe making changed after their state -sponsored training in China.
The final – year student of Micro Biology, University of Port Harcourt, said her dream was to have the biggest shoe making industry in Africa, upon graduation.
Responding to a question on why she delved into shoe production, a rare field for females as a career, she said her poor family background made her take the decision to produce affordable shoes as she had no shoes in her primary and post primary school days.
“I’m from a poor family. My parents have 13 children and my father could not afford to provide shoes for me while in school. Therefore, I decided that when I grew up I would set up a shoe factory where I will be producing shoes at affordable price.
“So that’s how I went into shoe making after my secondary school. And I’m happy today to produce shoes and that has taken me to many countries”.
She thanked the state government for encouraging her to excel in her choice enterprise, adding that she has already started organising entrepreneurship training for students.