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The Chairperson of the Printing and Publishing Group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mrs. Layo Okeowo, has described the paper industry in Nigeria as a goldmine waiting for investors to explore.
Okeowo, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of FAE Limited, made this call during a webinar with the theme: “Revitalising the Paper Industry: Challenges and Opportunities in South-West Nigeria,” organised by the LCCI recently.
Okeowo, also urged the federal government to muster the political will needed to launch targeted policies that would significantly help to revive the country’s paper and allied product industry from its current state of comatose, which experts have estimated to have an annual market value of N3 trillion.
She said that it was disheartening that despite the potential of the paper industry and also considering its strategic importance in the broader manufacturing value chain, the sector has been neglected by successive administration, which has made the country a net importer of paper products.
These policies, according to her, would encourage “research (Paper Research Institute) on how to grow improved trees, own and manage plantations that would feed the mills, as well as the creation of training sectors that would strengthen the skills of young individuals in paper mill operations. We also need friendly policies to encourage higher private sector participation in the paper industry.”
She said: “It is very disheartening that despite the potential of the paper industry and also considering its strategic importance in the broader manufacturing value chain, the sector has been neglected by successive administration.”
The Chief Consultant of the B. Adedipe Associates Limited, Dr. Biodum Adedipe, in his presentation, urged investors to rethink their attitude toward the Nigerian paper industry and reposition themselves for the impending growth opportunities for wealth and job creation in the industry.
Adedipe, noted that the wide gap between the paper mill installed capacity of 200,000 metric tonne and the domestic production need of about three million metric tonne was an opportunity that would be hard for any investor to ignore.
He stated: “Nigeria is a net importer of paper and paper making products. This is a massive spot for investment in paper and paper making product.
“With Smartphone adoption reaching 50 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa, the scope for e-commerce has expanded significantly and along with the opportunities in packaging and other segments of paper and pulp industry.
“The Nigeria Customs Service indicated in 2018 that imports of paper and pulp was N720 billion. There is however a printing and industry based estimate that put it at N3trillion annually, which translate into some 235,000mt per month.
“This is by far beyond the installed capacity in the sector and points at investment opportunities,” the economist said.
Adedipe went on to state that the sector more than doubled the value it created between 2010 and 2019, from N24.36 billion to N53.93 billion (CBN), averaging annual growth of 10.02 per cent.
“This is estimated to grow to about N140.14 billion worth of value that can be created in the sector in Nigeria by 2030.This figure can escalate with fresh capital injection from new investors,” he said.