The leather market, with its projected $1 billion earnings by 2025, has the potential to improve the nation’s foreign exchange earnings, boost growth and provide employment for young Nigerians.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made this known during the launch and sensitisation workshop on the National Leather and Leather Products Policy Implementation Plan in Abuja.
According to him, with the right planning and strategy, optimising the value chain, these economic goals could become reality soon.
He cited a study by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), which projected that the leather industry has the potential of not only increasing its earnings by 70 per cent but also generating over $1 billion by 2025.
“There is no question that properly organised, the leather and leather products industry could become one of the major items in Nigeria’s export basket.
”The leather value chain is extensive. It includes animal husbandry, tanneries, finished leather products, and leather products marketing. The leather and leather products industry currently employs over 750,000 workers with about 500,000 workers in the finished leather goods sector. About 11 leather exporting companies have been active at the upstream end of the leather value chain.
“Also, the export of leather has grown steadily, reaching a peak of $117 million in 2018. Exports fell in 2020 largely due to the pandemic, but to date, are in the order of $272 million,” Osinbajo said.
In a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Mr Laolu Akande, Osinbajo explained that the country was yet to maximise its potential in the sector despite exporting millions of semi-finished and finished leather products to destinations including Italy, Spain, India, South Asia and China.
According to him, with the formal launch of the National Leather and Leather Products Policy Implementation Plan, government now has ‘a real opportunity to address specific challenges and shortcomings of the leather sector with pragmatic strategies to permanently resolve these issues for optimal productivity.
“There is now a clear line of sight to our emergence as a major hub for the manufacture of leather goods with the refocusing of the leather sector to value addition from its previous focus on exporting semi-processed leather,” Osinbajo said.
Describing the plan as all encompassing, he noted that relevant government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and the organised private sector are assigned specific responsibilities for its various objectives and strategies.
He added that the plan covers eight thematic areas, including intellectual property rights, governance, e-leather, environmental and social best practices, marketing, funding, critical infrastructure, and research and development.
Commending the initiative of the Nigerian Institute of Leather Science and Technology (NILEST) regarding the plan, Osinbajo said the establishment of nine extension centres across the six geo-political zones will help to train and develop young entrepreneurs in Nigeria as well as provide innovative research and development in the sector.
Noting that the institute is also collaborating with the military for research, development, design, and production of military footwear, the VP noted that the very idea of an implementation plan is refreshingly innovative.
“It addresses the malignant problem of great plans but poor delivery that appears to bedevil many policies of government.
“The next steps are clear and the stage is set for establishing the leather and leather products industry in Nigeria on a sure-footed and well thought out growth trajectory,” Osinbajo stated.
The Vice President commended the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, and his team for developing the plan, as well as other relevant government agencies and international bodies such as the European Union (EU) and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) who are partnering with the Federal Government in the implementation of the policy.