A major African shoe factory which fell into disrepair during various military administrations in the Imo State area of Eastern Nigeria is to be rebuilt.

Italian shoe company, World Investment Manufacturing Group, is to be a partner with a 40 per cent equity share in the project in Eastern Nigeria.

The Imo State Government will own the majority shares of 60 per cent.

Most of the machines in the company which have been unused in recent years are to be replaced by new ones.

A spokesman for the company said: "Our intention is that the company should run as pure private enterprise with eyes at revenue so that the government and its partner can get the value for their investment before deciding whether the shareholding structure should be extended either through the capital market or any other arrangement."

The new shoe company will employ around 550 people. At full capacity, the company will be able to produce between 1,500 and 2,000 shoes a day.

By Deborah Bowyer