Launch Of National Leather & Leather Products Policy Implementation Plan
SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE FORMAL LAUNCH AND SENSITIZATION WORKSHOP ON THE NATIONAL LEATHER AND LEATHER PRODUCTS POLICY IMPLEMENTATION PLAN AT SHEHU MUSA YAR’ADUA CENTRE, ON THE 6TH OF JULY, 2021
Nigeria is one of the highest producers of leather and finished leather products in Africa. And a study carried out by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group projected that the Nigerian leather industry has the potential to generate over US$1 billion by 2025.
The leather value chain is extensive, it includes animal husbandry, tanneries, finished leather products, and leather products marketing. The leather and leather products industry itself we are told currently employs over 750,000 workers, with about 500,000 workers in the finished leather goods sector.
There are about 11 leather exporting companies that have been active at the upstream end of the Leather Value Chain. Together, these companies generate about 8000 jobs, and the export of leather has grown steadily reaching a peak of about $117million in 2018 but exports fell in 2020 largely due to the pandemic. To date, however, exports are somewhere in the order of $272m.
Nigeria’s semi-finished and finished leather have their highest patronage in several countries of the world Italy, Spain, India, South Asia, and China, and the markets in shoes, belts, bags, and folders are all over West Africa and many parts of Africa.
Some of the evidence we gathered suggests that the famous Aba shoe cluster in Abia State informally exports almost a million pairs of shoes every week mostly to destinations within Africa.
The industry is huge, but its potential can only be imagined. So, there is no question that properly organized, the leather and leather products industry could become one of the major items in Nigeria’s export basket. There is clearly enormous potential for even greater job opportunities and much higher export proceeds.
As we have seen The Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) projection shows that the Nigerian leather industry has the potential to increase its earnings by 70% in the next couple of years. This explains why the launch of the National Leather and Leather Products Policy Implementation Plan is such an exciting development. We now have a real opportunity to address the specific challenges and shortcomings of the leather sector with pragmatic strategies to permanently resolve some of these issues for optimal productivity.
In particular, there is now a clear line of sight to our emergence as a major hub in Africa 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. And a major part of that effort is in improving credit access to leader product manufacturers. This plan provides an opportunity to develop a credit guarantee scheme along the line very successful agricultural guarantee scheme.
In addition, a more intentional infrastructural development plan is now possible, our special economic zones project already highlights product manufacturing as a major focus of the plans for the economic zone. So, all that is required now is synergy and collaboration with NEPZA and we will indeed be able to have the kind of infrastructure that can support this industry.
By optimizing the value chains the sector will provide employment, improve our foreign exchange earnings and boost growth. Consequently, it is evident that in terms of what we have set for ourselves to do through the Policy and the Implementation Plan, the stakes are very high.
The plan covers eight thematic areas which include intellectual property rights, governance, e-leather, environmental and social best practices, marketing, funding, critical infrastructure and research and development.
The plan is as all-encompassing as it is detailed and relevant MDAs, NGOs, and the organized private sector are already assigned specific responsibilities for the various objectives and strategies of the plan.
A central feature of the plan is the development of technical capacity in leather works and technology. The Nigerian Institute of Leather Science and Technology (NILEST), the arrowhead of the plan, has established Nine (9) Extension Centres across the six (6) geo-political zones of Nigeria.
These Extension Centres are already operational with well-built workshops, laboratories, and exhibition showrooms to train and develop young entrepreneurs in Nigeria as well as provide innovative research and development in processing. So, we now have the capacity to train and conversion of hides, skins, and polymers into Leather and Leather Products of a global standard for export.
The Institute has been providing courses of instruction towards the HND, OND, Diploma, Pre-Diploma, Advanced Certificate, and Certificate Programmes. It also actively engaged in research and development activities on leather and leather product technologies and related fields.
The Institute is also collaborating with the Military for research, development, design, and production of military footwear and military products.
The very idea of an implementation plan is in my view, refreshingly innovative. It addresses the malignant problem of great plans but poor delivery that appears to bedevil many policies of the government.
The plan sets out deliverables, tells us who the implementers are and timelines. 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.
The Hon. Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and Honorable Minister of State, Mohammed Hassan Abdullahi and their team, the Honorable Minister himself an illustrious scientist and man of ideas, all deserve our commendation for this plan. To our list of those that must be commended, we must add their collaborators including the Ministries of Agriculture, Industry Trade and Investment, Education, Environment, the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, and the Nigerian Institute of Leather Science and Technology who are the secretariat for the project.
We also thank the European Union (EU) and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), who through the Nigeria Competitiveness Project (NICOP), is partnering with us in the implementation of this Policy. Very well done everyone.
We look forward to the great results of this well-thought-out plan and we expect to see those results in a very short time.
It is now my special pleasure and privilege to formally launch the National Leather and Leather Products Policy Implementation Plan.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.