Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said properly organized leather and leather products industry in Nigeria has the potential to generate over $1billion by 2025.
He stated this at the launch/unveiling of the National Leather and Leather Products Policy Implementation Plan today (July 6) in Abuja, pointing out that the sector currently employs over 700,000 workers with about 500,000 of them in the finished leather goods sector, adding Nigeria exports about a million pairs of shoes every week to destinations in Africa.
“There are about 11 leather exporting countries and they have been very active in the upstream end of the leather value chain, together these companies today generate about 8,000 jobs, and the export of leather has grown steadily, reaching a peak of about $117 million in 2018 but it fell in 2020 largely due to the pandemic. Till date however, exports are somewhere about $222 million.
“Nigeria’s semi-finished and finished leather have the highest patronage in several countries of the world, Italy, Spain, India, South Asia and China, and the market in shoes, belts, bags and folders are all over West Africa and many parts of Africa. Some of the evidence that we gather say that the famous Aba Shoe Cluster in Abia State informally exports about a million pairs of shoes every week to destinations in Africa.
“The industry is huge and the potential can only be imagined. So, there is no question that if properly organized the leather and leather products industry can become one of the major items in Nigeria’s export basket,” he said.
Osinbajo who said the implementation of the leather products policy would be holistic, added it would also provide a more sustainable infrastructure development plan and guaranteed access to credit facilities for business people.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, hailed the leather products policy as the first strategic implementation plan for the leather and leather products policy in the country.
“The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology is supporting this important initiative through offering leadership in the transformation of our economy from a resource-based to a knowledge and innovation-driven one,” he said.
The minister said the policy would help the effective and efficient exploitation of the country’s natural resources, earn and conserve foreign exchange, create jobs and help promote its drive for self-reliance, even as he called on all relevant stakeholders to facilitate both foreign and domestic investments.
“We need to transform our plan into action, we need all stakeholders to work together, we need to involve the organised private sector, we need to bring in more investment, both domestic and foreign into the leather industry,” he added.
Earlier, the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Barr. Mohammed Abdullahi, said the implementation plan was delicate and vital to reposition Nigeria for socio-economic growth and development, adding the implementation plan covered eight thematic areas, namely research and development, governance, intellectual property rights, e-leather, compliance, environment and social best practices, standards, marketing and patronage, funding as well as fiscal measures and critical infrastructure.
He averred that the leather policy, if fully implemented, would create an enabling environment that would sustain an all-inclusive growth for local and small enterprises as well as attract and protect investments, improve production output and promote innovation in the country.
In his address, the NILEST director-general, Prof. Mohammed Yakubu, who chaired the national steering committee on National Leather and Leather Products Policy Implementation Plan, said the subsector remained an engine of growth and a catalyst for nation building as well as an avenue of job creation for the nation’s teeming restless youths.
He added the policy would bring all stakeholders (animal husbandry, abattoir operations, hides and skins vendors, leather and leather products producers and marketers, research and development institutions, regulatory agencies, Nigeria Custom Service (NCS), development banks, etc,) together, to ensure the policy would make the desired impact within the shortest time.