Reviving Nigeria’s Textile Industry: Hurdles and Hopes Amid Decline

By 2005, the industry's decline had become evident. Today, only about five textile mills remain operational, and the once-thriving cotton value chain has vanished. The labor force has dwindled to less than 2,000, including both direct and indirect workers

The Textile Industry in Crisis

Nigeria’s textile industry, once a thriving sector contributing significantly to the nation’s GDP and employment, is now gasping for breath.

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Despite various revival efforts, the industry faces a sustained upsurge in imports, adverse monetary policies, and rampant smuggling, all of which threaten its survival.

A Glorious Past

In the 1970s through the 1990s, Nigeria’s textile industry was a cornerstone of the economy.

With around 180 textile mills and over one million direct laborers at its peak in the 1990s, the sector boasted a robust domestic market and exports across West Africa.

This era also saw substantial backward integration with a thriving cotton production value chain.

A Decline Set In

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By 2005, the industry’s decline had become evident. Today, only about five textile mills remain operational, and the once-thriving cotton value chain has vanished. The labor force has dwindled to less than 2,000, including both direct and indirect workers.

Industry stakeholders attribute this collapse to multiple challenges: large-scale smuggling, inconsistent government policies, insufficient power supply, insecurity in cotton-producing regions, foreign exchange crises, and high funding costs making local products uncompetitive.

Failed Revival Efforts

Despite numerous government interventions, including financial support, training initiatives, and foreign exchange restrictions on textile imports, the sector continues to struggle.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) from 2019 to 2023 shows a steady increase in textile imports, totaling N1.4 trillion against a mere N50.7 billion in exports. This significant reliance on imported textiles has resulted in a total trade deficit of N1.384 trillion.

Import Surge Despite Economic Challenges

In 2019, Nigeria imported N220.5 billion worth of textile products, which rose to N377.1 billion by 2023 despite ongoing foreign exchange crises.

Conversely, textile exports, primarily cotton and apparels, grew from N3.3 billion in 2019 to N18.8 billion in 2023, but this growth was primarily in Naira terms due to currency depreciation.

In the first quarter of 2024, imports accounted for 95.5 percent of the total textile trade value of N186.94 billion, further highlighting the sector’s dependency on imports.

GDP Contribution in Steady Decline

The sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s GDP has consistently declined over the years. According to NBS, it contributed 2.02 percent (N1.442 trillion) in 2019, dropping to 1.63 percent (N1.247 trillion) in 2023. In Q1 2024, the sector’s contribution to GDP was a negative 1.75 percent, marking it as one of the worst-performing sectors in the country.

Chinese Infiltration and Adulterated Products

The infiltration of Chinese counterfeit fabrics, especially the locally made tie and dye known as Adire, poses a significant threat to the local industry.

Cheaper “Adire Chinese” products have flooded the market, compelling many customers to opt for the counterfeit versions despite their inferior quality.

The Ogun State government has initiated steps to curb this menace, including legislative measures to ban adulterated fabrics.

Monetary Policies and Competitiveness

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has criticized the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) tight monetary policies, which they argue reduce the competitiveness of Nigerian products globally.

MAN’s Director General, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, noted a significant decline in manufacturing export value and an increase in the cost of doing business, exacerbated by high lending rates.

Calls for Enforcement of Executive Order 003

Industry stakeholders, including MAN and the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), have called for the enforcement of Executive Order 003.

This order mandates government agencies to prioritize locally produced goods in their procurements. Proper implementation of this order, they argue, could enhance local production, create jobs, and reduce the strain on foreign reserves.

Government’s Revamp Plan

In response to the industry’s decline, the Federal Government has unveiled a $3.5 billion plan to revamp the cotton, textile, and apparel sectors.

This initiative, in partnership with development partners and the private sector, aims to rejuvenate the moribund industry and create 20,000 jobs.

Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite, highlighted the ministry’s efforts to secure investments and develop a resurgence plan for the sector.

The Road Ahead: Revamping and Hope

The Federal Government’s recent moves to secure significant investments and establish strategic partnerships signal a renewed effort to revive the textile industry.

With the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Afreximbank, a $3.3 billion industrialization financing facility aims to revamp the cotton and textile value chain, potentially creating numerous jobs and boosting the economy.

A Path to Recovery?

Reviving Nigeria’s textile industry will require sustained and coordinated efforts from all stakeholders, including government enforcement of protectionist policies, addressing structural challenges, and fostering a conducive environment for local production.

The potential for recovery exists, but realizing it will depend on the effectiveness of these combined efforts in overcoming the industry’s current challenges.

Stakeholders’ Perspectives

John Adaji, the immediate past President of NUTGTWN, emphasized the sector’s potential to create two million jobs if properly revived.

He pointed to South Africa’s successful revival of its textile industry through conscious government efforts and local patronage campaigns as a model for Nigeria.

Ajayi-Kadir of MAN called for deliberate facilitation of backward integration and an improved operating environment to attract fresh investments.

He stressed the importance of monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of government orders like Executive Order 003 to ensure their intended impact on local production.

Conclusion

The journey to revive Nigeria’s textile industry is fraught with challenges but not without hope. The government’s ambitious plans and the determined advocacy by industry stakeholders offer a potential pathway to rejuvenate a sector that once stood as a pillar of Nigeria’s economy.

Effective implementation and sustained commitment will be key to breathing new life into this vital industry, ensuring its contribution to national development and economic diversification.

 

This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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