Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has expressed the state government’s readiness to partner Sterling Bank PLC to boost shoe production and enhance job creation in the State.
Ikpeazu made this known on Thursday when officials of the Bank paid him a visit at the Government House, Umuahia.
The governor said the commitment of the State Government to promoting its “Made in Abia” products initiative was unwavering.
He added that the State Government would remain resolute in evolving programmes that would enhance the welfare of the people of Abia.
Ikpeazu said: “World Bank reports reveal that about 250,000 artisans engage in shoe production in Aba and I know that each person will employ about four persons.
“We decided to address the challenges facing shoe production, which we met in 2015.
“They include automation, power, marketing and capacity building.
“This made it pertinent for efforts to be made in promoting local manufacturing.
“We started with marketing because demand has a way of improving production and quality.”
He added that the State Government’s efforts at addressing the issues challenging shoe production in the state had paid off.
Ikpeazu said he was excited that Sterling Bank PLC had decided to key into the “Made in Abia” initiative of the State Government, adding that it would greatly enhance socio-economics development of Abia.
Earlier, Emmanuel Emefinim, the Executive Director, Institutional Banking Division of Sterling Bank PLC, said the Bank was desirous to partner Abia State Government in promoting the “Made in Abia” products.
Emefinim said the Bank had interest in funding shoe production in Abia from the point of sourcing for the raw materials to the point of production and the sale of the products.
He said the Bank was focused on partnering the State Government in creating platforms for boosting local manufacturing, but would begin with shoe production.
He said: “We are trying to fund the entire production chain to create platforms that will make the process seamless.
“We are happy that the engagements we have had so far shows that Abia Government is interested.
“The Bank has gone into strategic engagements with Kano State Government on leather production.
“We have entered these strategic agreements to make it possible for shoe makers in Abia to have access to needed leather for production of top quality shoes.”