#Pulse36 Day 17 Maybe the future of Nigeria will be Made in Aba

Just one hour from Port Harcourt, along the PH-Aba expressway, one of the busiest markets in West Africa.

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Maybe the future of Nigeria will be Made in Aba play

Maybe the future of Nigeria will be Made in Aba

(Pulse36)
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Just one hour from Port Harcourt, along the PH-Aba expressway, one of the busiest markets in West Africa.

The famous Ariara Market, our first stop in Abia State.

This market is probably where you'll find the materials to make just about anything. From clothes, to even shoes.

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And talking about shoes, we headed straight for Shoe Plaza.

Everywhere you turn at Shoe Plaza, there's someone building a shoe or part of it.

Maybe the future of Nigeria will be Made in Aba play

Maybe the future of Nigeria will be Made in Aba

(Pulse36)

 

We went off to meet the President.

That's his office with the flag play

That's his office with the flag

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Here's we learned from Honourable Christian, the President of Shoe Plaza;

  • 75% of the shoes worn in Nigeria is made in Aba.

  • There are over 1,000 shops in Shoe Plaza alone with an average of 4 people per shop.

  • Up to 40,000 footwears are manufactured every week in Aba. “My company alone makes up to 1,000 shoes per week,” he said.

Now, we had no way to verify these numbers, but they couldn't be far off from the truth even if his numbers aren't accurate.

As far as we've seen, a lot seemed to be going on in Aba, but sometimes, this market is its biggest problem.

“People have a problem with Made In Aba products,” I started to ask. “Mostly because it appears that most of the products seem to be counterfeited. Take for example, we know neither Prada or Zara have factories in Aba. But a few minutes walk in this market, and we'll run into shoes with this brands.”

He sat up.

“You see,” he sighed, “we've been trying to educate people that they need to change. But it's a gradual process. We want every shoe that leaves this market to have Made In Aba on it eventually.”

Ambitious, but possible.

What about the China factor though?

“We still have to get raw materials from China,” Christian said. “And another problem we have is equipment. There are some finishings that will be best achieved with equipment. In the absence of that, we have to use hand.”

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I have no idea how expensive this machine is, but I imagine the opportunity this is. Imagine a company, or billionaire financing it. He automatically gets a share of Aba’s 40,000 per week operation.

But moving on, we took a walk round the market, and ran into this guy, Paul Andras.

He barely looked up as we spoke. Every second mattered. play

He barely looked up as we spoke. Every second mattered.

(Pulse36)

 

At first sight, he was just another hustler in Aba, stitching together pieces of leather to form the head of moccasins.

Then we got talking.

“I actually started working here during an ASUU strike in 2013,” he began.

“So I just came here to learn shoemaking instead of just staying idle.”

The first conflict came 6 months after, when ASUU called off the strike and he had to return to school at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri.

“The money was too good to just leave like that. So I started to balance it. At first, it was hard but I got used to it later.”

He's currently working on his final year project and has huge plans when he's done with school in November.

“I want to get better at programming language by the end of the year. In fact, I paid about 250k to learn Java at NIIT.”

He plans to focus on academic stuff. “This shoemaking hustle is temporary.”

But how much does he even make?

Paul specialises in building the upper part of moccasins and he averages 100 of these daily.

On some days, he pushes for 150. And this earns him up to 40,000 naira per week.

The grinding in Aba never stops. Nobody looks up. play

The grinding in Aba never stops. Nobody looks up.

(Pulse36)

 

That's so impressive, when you think of the fact that this single move made him completely independent of his parents financially.

It kind of put things into perspective. This is a guy who was, to me, or any passerby, just another semi-literate hustler in Aba. But not only is he educated, he probably has more skills than I do.

I wonder how many people in the super large market are like him, hustling hard. Striking the balance of paper, between money and a degree.

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I also wonder what Aba would become with the right influence. Imagine how much this city would fetch for Nigeria if fuelled with the right kind of support.

This shoe, along with the other one that made up the pair took 30 minutes to make. play

This shoe, along with the other one that made up the pair took 30 minutes to make.

(Pulse36)

 

If Nigeria will ever have an industrial revolution, it will most likely start off in Aba.

1/3, Pound Road, Aba.

Remember what you heard at the end of all your favourite old Nollywood movies?

“51, Iweka Road Onitsha, and 1/3, Pound Road, Aba. GRAB YOUR COPY NOW"

Well, we made a quick stop at Pound Road, and what did we find?

It's not what it used to be. "Government moved them elsewhere," someone told us. play

It's not what it used to be. "Government moved them elsewhere," someone told us.

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Nothing. Just like 51 Iweka, this place was a shadow of its old self.

The only positive to this is that Nollywood’s demands outgrew this little addresses.

When we'd seen enough of Aba, we headed for Umuahia.

Tomorrow, we're going to seek the iconic days of Biafra yesterday, and the future.

Read previous episodes HERE

*All photos were shot on the Samsung Galaxy S8+.

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