Nigeria: Covid-19 and the Textile Industries!

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

Nigeria | Covid-19 | Industries | 27th September 2021 | Virtual Wire


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In Nigeria today, there is a rapid increase in the cost of textile materials as it has never been for decades.

Nigeria is undoubtedly one of the largest markets in West Africa. She boasts of a population of over a 21million people. It is no news that the country is multi-ethnic and multi-religious, though the most predominant religions are; the Christian, Islamic, African traditional worshipers, and not forgetting the Jewish believers among them. Apart from being one of the largest markets in West Africa, the country itself is one of the biggest hosts of Small and Medium -Term Enterprises (SMEs), and among her booming markets is the textile market.

The Nigerian textile industry was in her glory days one of the largest employers of labour, with the federal government taking the lead. Nevertheless, this once cherished industry is no longer a major contributor to the country's foreign exchange earnings, neither is she among those taking the lead in employment generation. It is on record that out of the thirty-six states in Nigeria, twenty-six of them produces cotton which automatically makes the country to be one of the major stakeholders in the cotton business in West Africa. West Africa undoubtedly is the 5th largest cotton-producing region all over the world.

Despite the number of the country's cotton-producing states, Nigeria has failed of late to convert that raw material to a finished product, hence her dependence on imported textile materials. Statistics show that of the four hundred textile companies that were once operational in the country, less than twenty-six of them are struggling to be in operation today which has led to the country's dependence on imported textile materials.

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Nigeria alone accounts for over thirty-six per cent out of the sixty-five per cent of prints that come into West Africa. It is on record that Nigeria's print fabric market is flooded with materials from China which contributes over fifty-eight per cent and India which churns out roughly over twenty per cent with the rest coming from other countries and the country's local industry.

The demand for these materials is high, as man must meet one of her basic needs. This demand has made textile merchants be on the lookout for where these products are and at a good price. Fabrics like lace, crepe, chiffon, smokey, polo, suiting and all other materials are their target as there is a market for every product.

Some go as far as leaving Lagos to Aba or leaving Calabar to Aba or Onitsha. Of late, Aba, Abia State has been a major market for these products as there is a huge cluster of warehouses where importers who are tired of gridlocks in Lagos, and who sees the city as a better option compared to Lagos now sites their warehouses in the city. Furthermore, the large cluster of designers in Aba is another factor that made the importers choose Aba over other cities.

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Most of the wears that are on sale in major cities in the country are made in Aba, and this made the government of Abia state launch a Made-in-Aba campaign, a campaign that attracted the country's Vice President among others. It was also the availability of numerous designers that made Nwagba Foundation, a non-governmental organization to site her Odozi-Akwa studio in Aba. This studio undertakes all manner of finishing ranging from weaving, helming, Buttonholes etc for her members at no cost.

Getting these goods into the country comes with a huge price, especially since the dreaded Covid19 made countries like China which is a major exporter of these materials to close their borders. Importers who before now were free to travel to China, make choices, place their orders and come back home to clear their goods now depend on agents who are in China and who have little or no knowledge of choosing a good material.

These agents now have to conduct these businesses on their behalf at a high rate, thanks to the internet. Choices are now made using picture samples which do not give the importer the privilege to feel the product, neither does it give 100% accuracy of the stuff of the material. Making sure that these goods meet all the required standards comes with an added cost, as the importer now have to pay an extra cost for the items to undergo a Covid19 test and to be certified Covid19 free.

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These tests are conducted both at the point of loading and unloading of goods. Another factor that contributes to the high cost of these materials is the free fall of the naira against the dollar which is significantly the choicest currency for international trade. The dollar which previously stood at two hundred and forty-five as against the naira is at today over five hundred nairas. All these and more are the reasons why the cost of textile materials are on the high side in Nigeria. The citizens on the other hand are on the receiving end as there seems to be no active measure put in place by the government to ensure that her citizens will not face the harsh economic realities of these present times.

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