Being one of the biggest producers and exporters of raw leather materials in Africa, the export of leather has grown steadily in Nigeria as the federal government now targets securing about 1 billion dollars from the export of leather goods by 2025, in accordance with the National Leather Policy. Prof. Mohammed Yakubu, Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology (NILEST), disclosed claims that in 2018 and 2019, the exports of leather goods from Nigeria were approximately $800 million before falling to $650 million in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Regarding the capacity-building and research trip to Portugal’s leather industry, Prof. Yakubu said it is a component of attempts to put into effect the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, his initiated National Leather and Leather Products Policy Implementation Plan. He explains that the delegates studied various leather-making organizations in Portugal and its Innovative Laboratory and workshop facilities with the sole aim of garnering knowledge about their policies, procedure, industry dynamics, and technology and comprehending how they were able to transform their artisanal industry into a sophisticated and contemporary one.
The institute has resolved the issue concerning the high cost of leather materials.
For Nigeria to become a significant player in the global leather market, it is necessary to determine how to entice the Portuguese leather industry to establish manufacturing facilities here in Nigeria. Prof. Yakubu estimated that the global trade in leather goods is currently between $300-$400 billion, claiming that per week more than 20,000 pairs of shoes and different high-quality leather materials were exported to African, Asian, and European countries from Southeast, Southwest, and Northern parts of Nigeria.
According to him, compared to the foreign ones, the high cost of imported processing materials was responsible for the spike in the prices of most Nigerian leather products. In light of these problems associated with the high costs of processing materials for leather industries, the institute utilized its research expertise to find a constant measure. Leather industries can now get materials locally to produce leather at a lower cost and sell it abroad with high quality and quantity. Prof. Yakubu explains that the world is fast advancing in technology now in a paradigm shift where only adequate skillful people have more chance in the economy.
NILEST and CTCP tasked to attract funding and collaborators to Nigeria.
He believes that if more attention is paid to science and technology, Nigeria can attain high-level leather production globally, particularly in the manufacturing area. This also solicits the government to introduce unique local technology and industrialization programs at all levels. Furtherly, Yakubu said the team will consolidate the information from the study trip and add this valued experience to the activities of NILEST, as well as the Nigerian leather sector, in areas of research and development. It was also resolved that CTCP and NILEST will facilitate the partnership between the Portuguese and Nigeria Leather Association and Entrepreneurs.
In response, the Portuguese leather investors are to take advantage of Nigeria’s abundant raw materials for manufacturing leather, footwear, and leather goods through NILEST. CTCP and NILEST are also tasked to attract funding and collaborators to Nigeria, which will aid the improvement of the processing of leather and leather products domestically. Nigerian Ambassador to Portugal, Alex Kefas, said President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit in June 2022, the first of its kind, served as an impetus to the diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Portugal, bordered on bilateral trade, technology transfer and capacity building.
National Leather, Policy implementation plan to give sights in the sector.
The leather value chain is very extensive, including animal husbandry, tanneries, finished leather products, and leather products marketing. About 11 leather exporting companies have been active at Nigeria’s upstream end of the leather value chain. With the official launch of the National Leather and Leather Products Policy Implementation Plan, Vice Pres. Osinbajo noted that 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.