Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Sokoto Investment Company Limited (SICL) – a publicly-owned investment facilitator in Sokoto State, has partnered with Pan African Leather to revitalise the traditional leather industry in the north-west region with the creation of a leather tannery and a shoe-making factory in Sokoto over the coming two years.
The project, according to a statement by the promoters, would be coordinated by Pan African Enterprises (PAE) – a London-based a social partnership platform that seeks to contribute to the development of Nigeria’s economy and industry, as well as building capacities of states and societies.
According to the statement, the plan of the international start-up was to build a world-class leather value chain in the north-west, starting from tannery to marketing high-class artisanal products.
It explained that the chairman of SICL, Tukur Umar, and its Managing Director, Muhammadu Dasuki, would officially open the Pan African Leather project in London this week, to which their organisation had contributed an initial round of seed funding.
“Nothing is more important in Nigeria than creating jobs and addressing youth unemployment,” Umar, was quoted to have said ahead of the launch.
He added: “Our commitment to enhancing livelihoods and creating sustainable, skilled employment is crystal clear from the state’s financial input to this endeavour.”
Similarly, Dasuki, explained that the project would leverage Sokoto’s reported tradition of leather processing.
“We’ve built the right partnerships to help deliver this vision, which is based on Sokoto’s long tradition of leather processing and leather goods manufacturing,” said Dasuki.
Also, the Chief Executive Officer of PAE, Dawn Spetale, was said to have assembled an international team of experts, including retired diplomats, investment advisers and business figures, to help direct the project towards its goal of creating an integrated leather cluster in Sokoto, which can compete internationally in terms of quality, cost and environmental protection.
It added that in line with its commitment to social responsibility, PAE would is also working with partners including the British-Nigeria Educational Trust, which provides financial support for education throughout Nigeria.
“Sokoto is taking the lead in building this cluster for the future of its economy, and PAE is providing support by plugging Sokoto into global networks of financial support, knowledge and marketing.
“Sokoto has the most precious resource of all to drive this project forward – the people living there, who need viable, long-term employment opportunities in the export sector,” said Spetale.
She further stated: “We want the long-term impact of this project to be profound, by helping to address the unemployment, underemployment and insufficient opportunities for young people.
“PAE will be boosting Sokoto’s efforts on the ground by feeding expertise into all stages of the project, and in particular by ensuring a stream of financial support.”
The statement noted that one of the experts on the advisory team of the project is former UK High Commissioner to Nigeria, Sir Richard Gozney, who highlighted the role of the international development community in supporting Pan African Leather.
Gozney, said in this regards: “Nigeria’s economic scope is enormous, and with the right inputs the country can address the challenges it faces.”
According to him: “Building sustainable businesses in places like Sokoto will contribute to job creation, poverty reduction and greater security. The support of the international community in helping to finance such projects and enable them with expertise and insight is essential, and Pan African Leather should serve as an example of what can be achieved.”