Uche Usim, Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele on Tuesday revealed Nigeria spends a whopping $40 billion annually on imported textiles and ready-made clothing, describing the trend at as a scathing development that should be urgently addressed going forward.
Speaking at the textile industry stakeholders meeting in Abuja, Emefiele said textile has been included in the list of 41 items prohibited from accessing foreign exchange with effect from Tuesday.
According to him, the forex ban on cotton, textile, and garment (CTG) was a way of weaning Nigerians from being over-reliant on imported clothing.
The CBN governor assured the stakeholders in the cotton value chain of the apex bank’s support in providing funds to quickly revive their dead factories.
He lamented that Nigeria in the 1970s and early 1980s, was home to Africa’s largest textile industry, with over 180 textile mills in operations, employing close to over 450,000 people.
“By today, if we had nurtured and encouraged the textile industry, that sector will be employing millions. The textile industry at that time, was the largest employer of labour in Nigeria after the public sector, contributing over 25% of the workforce in the manufacturing sector. This industry was supported by the production of cotton by 600,000 local farmers across 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states. This sector supported the clothing needs of the Nigerian populace, as our markets were filled with locally-produced textiles from companies such as United Textiles in Kaduna, Supertex Limited, Afprint, International Textile Industry (I.T.I), Texlon, Aba Textiles, Asaba Textile Mills Ltd, Enpee and Aswani Mills amongst several others.
“It’s no secret that the past 20 years have been very difficult for many textile firms. They have faced rising operating cost and weak sales due to high energy cost, smuggling of textile goods, and poor access to finance.
“With a projected population of over 180 million Nigerians, the needs of the domestic market are huge and varied, with immense prospects, not only for job creation but also for the growth of the domestic textile industries.
“One quick example that highlights the potential of this local market, includes the need to support the provision of uniforms and clothing apparels for school students, the military and paramilitary officers as well as workers in the industrial sector.
In addition, when we consider the amount spent on outfits for religious and social events such as weddings, naming and funeral ceremonies on a weekly basis, the potential market size is well over $10bn annually,” Emefiele explained.
He called on other relevant stakeholders to join forces with the CBN to address some of the challenges facing the industry, given the high domestic demand for textiles and its potential to create jobs for Nigerians.
Also speaking at the event, a representative of the National Cotton Association of Nigeria, Mr Anibe Achimugu, hailed the CBN for its robust plans to revive the textile industry.
“We are so glad to work with the CBN. CTG sector is mainly cotton production. We believe better days are ahead for us and we are grateful for the points highlighted.
“However, we appeal to the CBN governor for speed in implementing these initiatives so that stakeholders don’t miss the planting season. The earlier we get the funds we seek, the better. We need to move with the times,” he said.