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‘Nigeria needs 10-20 year plan to meet its local shoe demand’ 

Manufacturing

There has to be deliberate plan targeting the finished leather goods segment of the industry; a plan that takes cognisance the need to do more downstream processing of leather-to-leather products in Nigeria, says Bello Yakasai, Leather Consulting Expert

Siaka MOMOH

    What is the worth of the Nigerian skin and leather industry as at today? No official Current figure. But industry players estimated that the worth of Export is still with the 800 – 1m USD range. While in-country finished leather goods activities hover around 2 – 3 billion USD. 

   There is a long-term neglect of the leather products industry in favour of oil production. This has left Nigeria behind pack in competing for a global market worth $72 billion. How do we go about reversing s this trend?

 First and most, it is important we have a policy that regulates the tanneries practices, that regulates export, that provides the right incentives, that addresses compliance issues etc. 

    Neglect of the leather products industry in favour of oil production has left Nigeria behind pack in competing for a global market worth $72 billion that increases in disposable income are fueling the international demand for high quality leather shoes, jackets, handbags and upholstery, a market which is growing steadily at 3 per cent per annum. How do we reverse this unpalatable situation?

There has to be deliberate plan targeting the finished leather goods segment of the industry; a plan that takes cognizance the need to do more downstream processing of leather-to-leather products in Nigeria. Promote the export of these products and ensure that players in the finished leather goods industry have access to finance, technology and skills.

Nigeria faces several challenges to improving its leather production and processing industry. An example of the need for improvement is found in the shoe market. Nigeria imports close to 20 million pairs of shoes annually despite its manufacturing capacity which could meet local demand and even produce export products.

It will take a while for Nigeria to meet even a reasonable percentage of the local demand for shoes. However, with an articulated 10 -20 years plan, we could do that and even export surplus.

  Developing countries export $19 billion worth of leather – much more than commodities such as meat ($2.7 billion), rubber ($3.7 billion), cotton ($2.5 billion) or coffee ($10.7 billion). The African export market is dominated by Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burkina Faso. What can Nigeria do to fall into this frontline group of African leather exporters?

Our purpose should not be to export finished leather; rather we should focus on value addition to turn the leather into goods which is capable of increasing the value by many folds. 

 In the early 1990s, there were 41 commercial tanneries in Nigeria.  Only six of the 41 can produce finished leather. Only eight are functional today. Local tanneries supply less than 10% of the national demand for leather. The supply gap is 90 million sq ft. How do we resolve this supply gap problem?

The major problems of most tanneries are access to finance to procure the appropriate technology. The cost of money is prohibitive and access is very difficult. We need to factor this in order to support the local tanneries to improve their performance.

Story sourced from Archives Siaka-Momoh

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