Dele Ogbodo in Abuja
The Director General, Textile Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (TMAN), Mr. Hamma Kwajaffa, has said that Nigeria currently spends over $4billion annually on imported textiles and ready-made clothings.
According to him, the country’s textile sector has the potential to produce textiles for the local market as well as for export to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), made up of over 175 million people.
He added that textiles from Nigeria can also be exported to the United States of America (USA), under the AGOA platform and to the European Union (EU), under its GSP scheme which Kenya, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Madagascar and a number of African countries are already exploiting.
The DG who made the disclosure in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja, stressed that textiles used to be Nigeria’s foremost industry, being the second largest employer of labour after government and utilising indigenous raw materials such as cotton.
With the country spending so much annually on importation of both ready- made and second hand clothings, the situation, he said is worrisome despite government intention to revive the sector, adding: “the reality on ground continues to be worrisome.” he said.
He said: “The prevailing unprecedented harsh environment has no doubt dealt a serious blow to the already fragile industry.
“Unless urgent steps are taken by the government to address key issues raised by the industry, the ray of hope that had arisen from the recent government initiatives may get extinguished.
“Nigeria’s huge population of over 165 million people, represents a large natural market for textiles.
“Influx of smuggled goods continues to flood major textile markets in Kantin Kwari, Kano and Balogun and Oshodi, Lagos.”
According to him, continuous importation of textile products, not only undermines the local industry, steal our jobs, and deprive government of revenue, it is a drain on Nigeria’s precarious foreign exchange reserves.
While commending the effort of government in its recent move at revitalising the sector, he said: “In the past six months, we were called by the Minister of industry, Trade and Investment, Governor of CBN and even the Vice President who is at the helm of the economic affairs.
“The minister of state for industry Mrs. Aisha Abubukar, recently visited textile mills in Lagos for a spot assessment.
“A list of 8 specific issues were brought to the notice of the government. Most of these issues for which government intervention was sought are within the ambit of existing policy framework whereas some require new initiatives.
“Re-scheduling of the CTG loan facility by the Bank of Industry (BoI) to 10+2 years was agreed by the government. For this to be effective, a notification is still awaited.
“The price of gas supplied to the local industry is pegged to the American dollar and was not reviewed after the drop in global oil and gas prices. The current domestic tariff at $7.38 per MMSCF is 3 times the price of gas in international market.”
He stressed that government should review the tariff on gas supplied to the industry in Naira which should be affordable, adding that scarcity of black oil has crippled the operations of the textile mills in the north.
“There is a need to ensure availability of the fuel oil to the textile mills by way of direct allocation from Kaduna and other refineries
“Consistent supply of certified seeds is required to ensure adequate supply of cotton to local textile industry.
“Under the dual exchange rate policy being currently pursued, CBN should allocate forex at official rate for meeting the need for import of essential raw materials by the textile mills.” he said.