Nnewi is referred to as the Japan of Africa, as it is home to many major indigenous manufacturing industries including Ibeto Group of Companies, Cutix and ADswitch, Uru Industries Ltd, Omata Holdings Ltd, Cento Group of Companies, Coscharis of Companies Group, Innoson Group of Companies, Ebunso Nig. Ltd, John White Industries, Ejiamatu Group of Companies, Chicason Group, Louis Carter Group, etc. The vast majority of industrialists in the cluster of spare parts factories in Nnewi are also traders, and most of these traders are producing one or more of the products.
Over the last decade, the town of Nnewi has experienced relatively rapid industrialisation. Over 20 medium-to-large-scale industries have been established across a variety of sectors. Since 1970, Nnewi residents have controlled approximately 80 to 90 per cent of the motor-parts trade in Nigeria. Nkwo Nnewi Market is the major import and wholesale point for motor spare parts in Nigeria. The industrialists of Nnewi are adapting alien technology to local needs, providing employment for thousands, and making available goods and services that meet the actual needs of Nigerian citizens. The first indigenous car manufacturing plant is located in the city, (owned by Innoson Group). In contrast, the first wholly Made-in-Nigeria motorcycle was built in Nnewi by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI).
Nnewi is known for the vibrant auto industry in the town. The first Igbo man to own and drive a car was HRH Igwe Orizu I (Eze Ugbo Onya Mba) in 1912. By 1940, Nnewi residents were at the centre of an international trading network that dominated the supply of motor spare parts in Nigeria. The town subsequently became a centre for commerce and industry and had one of the largest automotive parts markets in Africa. Nnewi is an authentic “manufacturing miracle.” Small and medium-sized enterprises have set up in the town and are producing not only for Nigerian markets but – albeit still to a limited extent – for markets abroad.
There are several auto and motorcycle spare parts dealers in Nnewi; the Nnewi Motorcycle spare parts market is well known throughout West Africa.