On organic growth
The Port Harcourt borough of Oroazi has become a fashion hub. All over the place, boutiques are springing up. It wasn’t always like this. In the past, Oroazi was a village that Port Harcourt’s GRA grew into. Its main claim to fame was Ebony Hospital.
All that changed with the advent of democracy. Following the war between Ateke Tom and Sogboma George in 2007, for some reason no one seems to know, assorted politicians decided that Oroazi was a good place to start, at first, renting houses for their side-chics. Many of these side-chics had no skill, except the ability to move their waists, and crucially, capital from their sugar-daddies, which most invested in clothes. Along the line, as more and more of these girls bought and sold clothes, they began to set up boutiques. Then those with skills, fitters and tailors, began to make their way to Oroazi, and set up shop.
Now, for many of those who I have spoken to in Port Harcourt, if you want to make clothes, the most likely place you will find high end tailors, is Oroazi. That, is organic development.
What bothers me is how long before the government moves in, and scatters the place…
There is an example happening in Lagos. The area is called Otigba. The Computer Village. Otigba began in the early 1990s, when a group of boys began fixing old computers. As more people bought into IT, they brought their printers especially, for fixing, and then the software pirates moved in. Finally, people like Chinedu Oguegbu began making the trip to China to buy newer computers, and sell at that place. The Computer Village was born, and it has grown organically since then.
Why the Lagos state government appears hell bent on relocating the Computer Village to Oke-Odo (where is that?) is anyone’s guess, but this piece isn’t about the conspiracy theory. Lagos has other clusters, where like minded businesses have grown. Somolu for printing, Ikorodu for wood sawing, come to mind.
Businesses, do best when allowed to grow organically, and then like hibiscus plants, are pruned on occasion. So, for Otigba, or wherever else, such as Oroazi when its growth is complete, the talk of relocating, or excess taxation should not be paramount.
What should be the aim, should be how to turn these areas of comparative advantage, to multi-million dollar revenue spinners. Like Slot in Otigba has shown, the bigger they grow, the more people they’ll employ. That, is what we need.