Chief Executive Officer, FAE Envelopes, Mrs Layo Bakare-Okeowo, on Wednesday said that paper industry could equate oil revenue generation for Nigeria if revived and maximally exploited using backward integration policy.
Bakare-Okeowo made the assertion at the company’s facility tour by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and the Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) in Lagos.
According to her, the paper industry, which she referred to as a gold-mine, will generate more foreign exchange, tackle unemployment, and contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The FAE boss, however, stated the need for a functional paper mill in the country and the proper implementation of backward integration policy to ensure ease of access to raw materials for production.
She quoted that the sum of five million dollars was enough to create paper mills cluster to drive the sector to full potential for the country’s sufficient use and for exports.
She also called for more support to the sector to engender more research in pulp and paper as well as capacity building to develop the industry.
“Billions of dollars is what is being expended to import paper into the country, meanwhile, God has blessed us with so much raw materials that can be transformed into making paper.
“We have the Kenaf specie for paper production with a gestation period of six months against that of wood that it’s gestation is about 12 years.
“Also, waste products, bamboo, sugar cane, jute leaves popularly called ‘ewedu’ are all raw materials that can be transformed to paper with a quick turn around time for investment.
“Once all these are in place, the future of the Nigeria paper industry is endless and could become self sufficient and also begin to export both in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and globally,” she said.
Bakare-Okeowo said that in spite of the obvious challenges with the operating environment, her passion to drive Nigeria’s industrialisation agenda to fruition was part of what had sustained the envelope business for over forty years.
She reiterated the company’s commitment to becoming more innovative in its drive to secure contents of envelopes, saying that the company had in its pipeline, a fireproof envelope.
“With the elections coming soon, there is need for tamper proof envelope which is water resistant and can be used to secure votes once sealed.
“Again, the future of paper is endless and we hope that the government can do what is necessary to drive the sector to its full potential seeing that Egypt has 25 functional paper mills,” she said.
President, LCCI, Dr Michael Olawale-Cole, reiterated the chamber’s interest in the success of all manufacturing companies at the heart of its operations.
He called for continued amiable relationship to drive Nigeria’s industrialisation agenda for all round growth and prosperity of the nation’s economy.
Ude John Udeagbala, President, NACCIMA, advocated the need for proper succession planning for businesses in Nigeria to engender sustainability.
Also, Mr Adesoji Adesugba, Managing Director, Nigeria Exports Processing Zones Authority(NEPZA), charged players in the paper industry to take advantage of the Free Trade Economic Zones across the country.
This, he said, would enable industries enjoy the maximum incentives such as duty free imports at the free trade zones.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that over 400 million metric tonnes of paper is being imported into the country annually.
In spite of the current global digitalisation, paper continues to be important for job creation, forestry, and education and literacy.(NAN)