Ayodeji Adeogun is an avid print consultant and a GIS expert. He is a former co-founder at Printivo.com, a start-up digital printing press in Nigeria. In a recent interview, Ayodeji shared his thoughts on the commercial printing industry in Nigeria. Solomon Elusoji brings excerpts:
How would you position the Nigerian commercial printing industry?
The Nigerian printing industry is one of the less recognised but lucrative industries within the Nigerian economy. One big reason for this non-recognition is the increasing growth of SMEs and the amount of competition between existing brands, the upcoming ones and the relatively new brands. This competition has spurred the need for producers and marketers to battle for the attention of both potential and existing consumers to grow their brand equity in the market.
In the face of the dwindling oil fortunes, the printing industry is one industry the Nigerian government should look into, by way of providing financial capital through loans and grants. My take on this is that the commercial printing industry is one of the largest informal sectors employing millions of youths and one of the largest employers of labour in Nigeria.
Aside Shomolu and Mushin, Lagos that are largely recognised as the two foremost commercial printing hubs in Nigeria, are there any other within Lagos and outside?
No doubt, both Shomolu and Mushin are two popularly recognised commercial printing hubs in Lagos, perhaps, the whole of Nigeria. While Shomolu is known to harbour clusters of commercial printing specialists than anywhere else in the country, Mushin is the home for printing materials and consumables. Aside Shomolu and Mushin, we have other fast-growing commercial printing hubs in Ogba and Ijaiye Ojokoro area, Lagos. To be best of my knowledge, outside Lagos, we have a popular commercial printing hub somewhere in Mokola Ibadan and an area in Benin City, Edo State. However, with this, I can tell you categorically that Shomolu is the home of commercial printing in West Africa.
As a print entrepreneur what are the challenges limiting the potentials of the Nigerian printing industry?
The issue of power supply has always being a major challenge to us in this industry. As you may be aware of, no serious printing press operates with the irregular power supply from DISCOS. Sights and sounds around Shomolu printing hub can attest to this. About 90 per cent of press here operates with a diesel generator. This affects contributes to the high cost incurred during print production processes.
Also, constant innovations in print technologies—new machines get developed every day to phase out the old analogue printing machines—but the challenge is that most of these latest print machines are quite expensive to import. Aside their high price tag, the bottlenecks connected to clearing at the Ports and transporting them down to press are other attributing challenges. Other common challenges include inadequate access to credit facilities; fluctuation in prices of raw materials and printing consumables like inks, paper, plates, films and others.
Are there any specialisations in commercial printing?
The commercial printing industry is large with different areas of specialisations. Categorically, we have the Pre-press, Press and Post-press. Some printers specialise in Book Publishing—revolves around book printing, binding and wire works, diary and calendar productions. While some others specialise in large format printing; this class of printers produce outdoor display banners of different kinds, stickers amongst other things.
We also have screen printers, signage and printing specialists most of whom work closely with the outdoor advertising industry. Some printing press companies/shops specialise on large-size paper print using offset machines like – MOz, Chord, Speed master, etc. and there are the Finishers who do the cutting, sorting, die-cutting, card box-making, spotting, embossing and debussing and foiling. It would also be important to mention the class of printers who do sublimation printing: souvenirs, promotional items, and sometimes monogramming.
For pre-press, we have the Graphic Artists, Creatives and Plate makers
Other experts in the commercial printing industry have decried the rate at which book publishers patronise foreign printers outside the country, what is your take on this?
No lies about their assertion. Do you know is sometimes cheaper to print outside Nigeria especially when printing books? This is partially due to the high cost of production. Other problems include low quality and the inability to meet deadlines and the issue of security of materials/work during printing. Most book publishers print from China, Malaysia, Turkey and India.
What has changed since the advent of digital printing?
Digital printing is the new bride. It has introduced changes in terms of process, speed and print quality, as against the traditional offset printing process.
What can you say about the future of printing in Nigeria?
The future is very bright. As long as more businesses are coming into the marketplace, as long as religious, political, corporate bodies and individuals keep organising events and keep promoting their events, the better for the printing industry.
How fertile and lucrative is the printing industry in Nigeria?
As I said earlier, the commercial printing industry is highly underrated. I can tell you categorically, it is as big as what the Nigerian textile industry used to be in the 80s and 90s though not as organised. It remains one of the biggest employers of labour in the country. Besides, the commercial printing industry is the backbone to the marketing and advertising, creative, events and entertainment industries.