By Chinwendu Obienyi
Despite the $660 million released to manufacturers by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers’ Association (NTMA), has warned that the industry could go into extinction unless manufacturers are allowed access to foreign exchange.
Giving the warning yesterday, Director General, NTMA, Mr. Hamma Kwajaffa, said that the textile industry is on the brink of crisis as few existing manufacturers are set to stop production due to non-availability of forex for purchase of raw materials.
“To access foreign exchange, we have to go through our banks, but they keep telling us they do not have foreign exchange to give and this situation has impeded our production activities because most of our production components cannot be sourced locally.
“By now, many companies ought to have fabrics in the market against the Christmas season, but they cannot do that because some of the manufacturers have already stopped production and it is becoming difficult to convince others not to suspend production,” he said.
The NTMA boss also explained that apart from the foreign exchange challenge, little efforts was being made at revitalising the textile industry leading to low production output.
“At the peak of the economic boom in the early 80s, Nigeria had 84 textile mills. That number has dropped to 24 now and the workforce in these industries nationwide has also been reduced from 250,000 to about 20,000. The government has been making frantic efforts through consultations and intervention funds to revive this ailing sector but the present situation might cripple all efforts geared towards injecting life into the industry and a lot is at stake if the present situation is not addressed,” he explained.
Kwajaffa urged the CBN to allow NTMA members access to forex and called for improved collaboration between the apex bank and commercial banks in the allocation of foreign exchange to manufacturers.
He added that textile manufacturers’ access to raw materials would translate to enhanced production, job creation, a thriving textile industry and increased contribution to gross domestic product in Nigeria.