Made in ABA- The future beyond substandard products.
“There is no documentation,” says a senior staff in the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Aba Smart Office, who wishes to remain anonymous because he is not authorised to speak to the press. “There are no records of trade for us to know the exact volume of trade between Aba and these countries, but we are working with the associations to urge them to keep records of their individual sales.”
Manufacturing in Aba is informal, likewise the sale. The manufacturers are mostly in their houses, on the streets and market stalls. There are tens of thousands of individuals who are actively manufacturing different types of products but nobody knows for certain the quantity of these goods that are produced in the city.
“Everything can be made in Aba,” says Uche Jumbo, a Nollywood actress, on a billboard along the Aba-Owerri road in Aba. Wearing a headgear and beaming with a bold smile, Jumbo announces she is proudly “Nwa Aba” — a child of this commercial city in Abia State, southeastern Nigeria. And she proudly supports products manufactured in the town she grew up in.
The evidence of manufacturing in Aba cannot be ascertained by the number of factories because there are too few of them.The evidence is, however, ascertained by the number of trucks that transport manufactured goods out of the town and the presence of Aba products in all the markets in Nigeria and many African countries.
In Aba, the markets, the roadsides, the streets, and the backyards have been turned to manufacturing sites for different products where quality is maintained by fierce competition for sale.
“Aba is textile and leather,” industries in Aba are classified into four: micro, small, medium and large. It is the micro industry that makes Aba unique in the manufacturing of goods.
“It is this micro industry that employs the people and pushes out the goods,” “Most of the products you see in the markets are produced by the micro industrialists inside their houses. You will see three tailors come together in one room but day and night, they are producing quality goods and putting labels that you won’t believe are coming out from there.”
Aba has a niche as a manufacturing hub for shoes, belts, bags and clothes but for those who understand the people’s creativity and entrepreneurship, manufacturing in the town goes beyond leather and garment products.