Challenges Before Nigerian Textiles Industry

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Currently one of the most talked about issues in the country, is ailing industry which spawned several critical sectors of the Nigerian economy.

The industries have not only critical role to play in the realisation of the Vision 2020, but have the potential of turning the economy of this country around to battle unemployment monster. Observers believed that one of the critical sectors to tackle to turn around the economy is the textile manufacturing industry.

The federal government late last year, took an unprecedented and giant step to revive Nigeria’s prostrate and comatose cotton and garment industry. Statistics indicates that the cotton and garment industry once, provided employment to the largest number of Nigerians, generated 25 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product and contributed 20 per cent of corporate taxation revenue in Nigeria.

Investigation revealed that the Cotton-Textile-Garment (CTG) industry revival scheme is driven by a set of strategies, policies and programmes aimed at giving new energy to the cotton and textile industries and stimulating demand for its garment industry. In the words of Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, chairman of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria; Ikeja branch, the strategies if properly channelled and harnessed would help to meet the challenging responsibilities expected of all the ailing manufacturing textile industry. The scheme, he said, when funded from the proceeds of a N100 billion bond to be floated by the Debt Management Office (DMO) would be made available to interested and genuine stakeholders across the value chain of the industry.

The Industry Bank is expected to be the major player in this revival of the textile industry in the country. Hence, Fedelis Okon, a Port Harcourt-based industrialist says: the Industry Bank  would oversee and dispense the fund to finished product participants in the industry.

This includes the farmers producing cotton and other fibre products, gingering operators, spinning and textiles millers including investors in garmenting.

Okon, who expressed fear insists that garment industry have been infiltrated by smuggled garment and second hand clothing materials, which have flooded Nigerian markets unabated despite concerted efforts by the relevant institution to check their influx.

According to him, The Industry not producing at full capacity because of the current protracted problem in the power generating sector, is another militating factor 

But Ohuabunwa disagreed that There is presently an attempt to address the power issues. Government has declared that 6,000 megawatts of electricity would be vigorously pursued. The Ministry of Power is working hard, those behind the IPPS are working hard, so also the joint committee with state government. In his words: the ministry of power has been able to generate 3,000 megawatts to tackle enormous challenges in the industry.   

According to Ohuabunwa.  There was a time in the history of this country when manufacturing was contributing up to 17 percent. And that was without any push. We know today, that it took two years for the world to come to its knees. For instance, from 2008 to 2009, capitalisation almost collapsed. It took China, he said, 11 years to move from a poor economy to a major world player even in the garment manufacturing sector. China is today perhaps competing with United States of America. So if China can do, it is possible for our ailing industries to survive amidst challenges.

Investigation further showed that certain factors or activities can leap-frog some  of the ailing industries from surviving any possible challenges. For instance, if the country achieve the expected growth in power generation, it has predicted that, that alone, has the capacity of doubling the needed Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

If the country industrial sector enjoys 12 hours of unbroken electricity, just 12 hours, the nation manufacturing industries will pick up again.

The amount of value added will also improve. He said there are technologies that can be used to improve on our productivity, and capacities which are available. Ohuabunwa further noted that before now, industries used very large plants and outlays to do manufacturing, but these days some of the manufacturing industries can manufacture in a small plant, but with high level of technology that can provide them greater efficiency and productivity.

In his words: We can make our environment attractive to investment, because investment is critical to manufacturing dealing with the infrastructure deficit, improving security, law and order.

Engr. Vincent Furo, President of Port Harcourt Chambers of Commerce Indsutry and Agriculture (PHACIMA), in support of his counterpart in the industry said: With the minimal, illegal and double taxation would reduce the cost of manufactured goods in Nigeria.

He said: What the industries need is energy and technology, because Nigeria has the potentials, human capital that exist, while others are still dormant, human resource that is in the diaspora, that can be attracted back. All these can propel manufacturing.

For instance, he said, the objective of the government to boost the textile industry and to scale up the fight against smuggling. He said the challenges facing some of the industries would soon be addressed as the federal government plans to increase power generation to core Cotton Textiles and Garment (CTG) industries to ensure that they operate at optimal capacity. The lack of which has been the bane of industrial development in Nigeria and which actually led to the collapse of most ailing industries.

Furo further said the ball is now in the court of the Bank of Industry to perform its role deligently, honestly and for the benefit of the Nigerian economy. There must be a clear departure in the execution of the funding of the industries especially, the textile scheme from the past promise by previous administration, which never saw the light of the day. We look forward to the revival of this vital industry and other industries in the country.