Nnewi is an industrial city in Anambra State.
The city is known for producing a diversified range of transportation entrepreneurs from transporters, to spare parts dealers and manufacturers.
Nnewi's population is over 200,000 people. The city is located near a bypass that links Port Harcourt to Onitsha, the latter is a few kilometers from Nnewi. Historically, the Nnewi Local Division is comprised of 14 towns among the towns and surrounding population centers are Nnobi, Amichi, Orifite, Ichi, Ozubulu, Ukpo and Ezinifite. The area creates a contiguous and dense settlement of people engaged in farming, commerce and industry.
The city like most of its environs goes through two major seasons: rainy and dry season with an intermittent case of harmmattan. The area is a lowland rain forest with a broad strip of between 130-200km and it is situated in the Awka-Orlu uplands where outcrops of sandstones and shales have been differentially carved by erosion. It is also located near the margins of a plateau that slops towards the River Niger and it is connected to the coast through Aboh on the Niger.
Nnewi's history dates back to the fifteenth century when migrants from Benin, Agbaja, Abatete, Ikenga and Ndoni settled in the area and were soon grafted into various descent groups. The town's name is a combination of ewi, a term for a rabbit and ne, mother, meaning Nnewi, mother of rabbits.
Nnewi's organization structure is configured in four quarter or territories: Otolo, Uruagu, Umudim and Nnewichi. Each quarter is made up of a large descent group comprising smaller lineages and headed by an Obi, the chief of the quarter. The arrival of the British colonial officer Major Moorhouse signified a gradual change with the establishment of civil courts, a royal Nnewi court and the appointment of warrant chiefs. Igwe Orizu I was given a warrant for Nnewi.
Three of the quarters in Nnewi are connected together by the high goddess Edo. However, with the arrival of missionaries to Nnewi beginning in 1892, residents gradually converted to Christianity. The C.M.S. church was the first to come to town and it later established schools at Otolo, Nnewi and Uruagu.
The city's center market Nkwo founded in 1901 is a major spare parts market in the country. It has various sectors dominated by the spare parts division, timber and furniture area, cloth area and food area.
The growth of small and medium scale engineering and manufacturing firms in the city can be traced to various factors including location and perceived noneconomic social institutions such as family, culture, religion and kinships which imbibes trust. Many of the firms employ family members and relations at critical positions and employ age old coordinated social political cultural institutions such as lineages to provide an economic function. A number of the firms started out as a trading entities before branching into manufacturing firms and utilized technical skills and techniques acquired from Taiwan and a few other Asian countries. They were able to withstand the structural adjustment programme of the mid to late 80s, by showing significant growth during the period as other firms folded.
During the rise of indigenous manufacturing clusters in the city, the firms functioned as substitutes of the state, many times providing their own water, road and power facilities.
Engineering and industry
Prominent firms in the city includes the Ibeto group that started as a trading concern and later established a photographic and auto parts manufacturing business. Others firms includes Adswitch, Omatha Industries, and many other firms some that are now struggling.
Historically, with the development of road networks in Nigeria, Igbo businessman many from Nnewi came to play a major role in the commercial transportation of goods and people from various locations in Nigeria to another. The first owner of a vehicle in the city was the Igwe and the major road was the Uzo wire rd which followed a communication line. The demand for commercial transport grew with the rise of palm produce export and intraregional trade needs. The transport entrepreneurs from the town branched out to various urban cities of the federation and by early 1980s, over 50% of the entrepreneurs were working out of Nnewi. Transporters from Nnewi were known for their un-orthodox South to North migration patterns jettisoning the fashionable North to South pattern.