By OLAJIDE FABAMISE,
Nigeria’s leather industry has generated N24.5billion ($700million) annually with limited support and has the capacity to create about 700,000 direct and indirect jobs.
This was contained in a report from the Bank of Industry (BoI) obtained LEADERSHIP, yesterday.
According to the report, the nation’s earnings from the non-oil sector in 2015 exceeded its oil revenue, accounting for 61.1 per cent of the federally-collected revenue with about N448.83billion. The country’s earnings from the oil sector during the period dropped to N286.24billion.
The report also states that if appropriate policies are put in place, leather production, which has spanned many years in Nigeria, could further boost the current revenue earned from the sector especially with lots of opportunities that abound.
Also, speaking recently, the chief executive officer, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Segun Awolowo, said with a global market size of $20billion traded annually and inherent opportunities it portends to non-oil exports, there is the need for increased productivity in the leather industry to meet international brands.
Awolowo noted that the industry being an integral component of the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), whose value chain is critical to the economy, has the potential of earning over $1billion for Nigeria by the year 2025, given all the required support and intervention.
He said: “Our leather products are already competing with the international market. Many of them are being sold abroad already. But we need to increase productivity in order to meet up with other international brands.
“With approval of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, the NEPC has commenced the process of implementing the zero oil plans. This non-oil export revolution campaign is set to systematically grow non-oil export from$2.7billion to $8billion in 2020, and eventually get into our target of $30billion by 2025, to bring a future economy where Nigeria will be able to survive on zero export of crude oil.
“Hides and leather is strategic. Fair provides platform to showcase creativity of Nigerians and offer opportunity to identify gaps and potential of the industry whose value chain is a critical economic sector as identified in NEPC’s zero oil plan, an integral component of the federal government economic recovery and growth plan ERGP,” the NEPC boss said.
Affirming his support to the leather sector, the Executive Director, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), BoI, Waheed Olagunju, who promised to leverage more on capacity building for the entrepreneurs, expressed optimism that Nigeria can compete favourably in the global market with the quality of works displayed at the fair.
At the just concluded 2017 Lagos Leather Fair, which was put together by Femi Handbags, a private initiative to address the persistent and considerable challenges facing the Nigerian leather industry, stakeholders also clamoured for the survival of the leather industry.