* Ford Foundation, TBWA, PorterNovelli behind new push
Nnewi in Anambra State is bouncing back as an industrial hub east of the Niger. A coalition of groups are taking up the task. Nigeria’s first automotive industrial park has been slated for Nnewi.
TBWA Concept Unit, an advertising and Public Relations agency, in conjunction with C&F PorterNovelli, with support from Ford Foundation, has concluded the first Nnewi Investment Summit geared towards drawing the attention of stakeholders to the benefits of revitalizing and re-branding of Nnewi as an industrial hub in Nigeria by leveraging on its past glory and current potentials.
Nnewi, the second largest commercial town in Anambra State, and regarded as ‘Detroit of Nigeria’ is home to Innoson Motors, the first indigenous motor manufacturing firm in Nigeria.
The commercial town also hosts large number of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) that are into the manufacture of car and motorcycle spare parts.
Despite the dexterity of these entrepreneurs, their activities have been encumbered over the years, by a number of challenges that include, lack of access to foreign exchange and high exchange rates, visa acquisition, access to finance, infrastructure of roads, electricity, water and health facilities.
Wrong policies and lack of financial support from government, high bank rates for credit facilities, influx of substandard products from China are also other challenges faced, by businesses in NNewi.
Consequently, the TBWA/C&R PorterNovelli initiative aims at forming alliances that will ensure a blended approach in the creation of an intervention programme that would involve policy makers, private sectors and philanthropists, says Kelechi Nwosu, managing director, TBWA Concept Unit.
He observed that Nnewi is an important hub for automobile manufacturing that is not known to many, stating that the commercial town requires a lot of support to scale up.
To scale up Nnewi, Nwosu solicited for collaboration between business owners, government and the development sector (philanthropists).
That alliance according to him, would bring about a funding strategy, a hub, that will activate the engineering capacity of Nnewi.
“We are also looking at a rebranding opportunity that can attract people to patronize manufacturers in Nnewi. And we are lucky to go back to Ford Foundation, who said to us that they will support the initiative, but the first thing do is to organize a summit like this one, we are having today, so that we can all talk and find ways to scale up Nnewi”.
He explained that the aim of TBWA Concept and C&S PorterNovelli is to create a development platform for Nnewi to scale up.
“Nnewi is a great entrepreneurial place, but limited by so many factors and we are here to find solution to the challenges. If we can plan and make it happen, we can all benefit from it. So, we want to plan it, we want to grow it.
“If there is any state that deserves an industrial park, it is Anambra state and Nnewi should be the host”, he observed.
He thanked Nnewi Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NCCIMA), the host, Ford Foundation, the presidency, Anambra State Government and other dignitaries that attended the summit.
Responding to Nwosu’s call for an industrial park in Anambra State, Chris Azubogu, member representing Nnewi North, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo federal constituency in the House of Representatives, informed the summit that the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment in conjunction with Anambra State government has already sited the first out of the three approved automotive industrial parks in the country in Nnewi.
“I can reliably tell you that Governor Willie Obiano has handed over the land for the project to the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment and as we talk, they have already moved to site.
“I can assure you that in a couple of weeks, we will still come back here in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment and Nigerian Automotive Design and Development Council, to sensitize people on the automotive industrial park”.
Paul Nwulu, senior programme officer, Ford foundation, West Africa, applauded Nnewi industrialists, for their success so far, despite lack of support and hoped that the summit would be a platform that would move the commercial town to greater heights.
He called for collaboration of stakeholders to reinvigorate Nnewi.
“Ford Foundation alone cannot drive an intervention that will scale Nnewi up, so everybody must come together to drive this intervention. For it to be successful, everybody must come with a commitment to drive one specific goal. Let us work where we will share a common goal.
“This Nnewi intervention cannot work if Ford Foundation is going one way and government is going another way. We need to have a common goal and that common goal is what we need to raise Nnewi and Nnewi businesses”, he stated.