Aba Garment Makers Urge CBN To Commit Part Of N220b SME Fund To Equipment Procurement

Garment makers in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, have appealed to Government agencies, especially the Bank of Industry (BoI) and the Nigerian Export, Import Bank (NEXIM) to support the fashion industry to produce seamless products that will compete favorably in the international market.
They also urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to use part of the N220 billion small and medium enterprises fund, to acquire modern equipment needed in the industry, especially labeling and buttonhole machines that are not readily available in the country, to aid in finishing of their works.
They argued that Aba garment makers have the capacity to produce for local and for export, if the right facilities and equipment are made available to them.
Onyebuchi Nwaigwe, president, Association of Tailors and Fashion Designers (ATFAD), an umbrella body of tailors and fashion designers in Abia State, in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay, explained that if the sector operators are properly empowered that they would produce quality products, help create employment and contribute to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
He also appealed to the Abia State Government to fulfill its promise of developing the industrial cluster at Umukalika in Obingwa Local Government Area, to provide a more conducive environment for the leather and garment sectors of the economy.
The Umukalika industrial site, spanning about 35 acres, was earmarked for the project, but left undeveloped, by previous administrations in the State.
However, the present administration has set machinery in motion to realize the project and thereby boost industrial development of the State, South-East and South-South regions of Nigeria.
Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, has one of the largest concentrations of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria and a bulk of this number are engaged in leather works, steel fabrication and garment making, which could be attributed to the popularity of the city.
It is estimated that Aba hosts 110,000 shoemakers and 50,000 garment makers.
The ingenuity of Aba artisans, especially, the garment and leather clusters-comprising of shoe, belt and bag makers, attracted the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in partnership with the Federal Government, to set up a Common Facility Centre (CFC) in the city, to support the clusters to further develop their skills.
Consequently, it is the desire of the present administration in the State, led by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to provide a conducive environment for artisans and other business operators and the restoration of infrastructure in the commercial city of Aba, is an integral part of the plan, says a source.

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