Improved access to finance, capacity building and creation of a network of manufacturing hubs as well as constant electricity supply, among others, have been identified as enablers that would unlock the growth potential of Nigeria’s ailing textile and garment sector.
This was the view expressed by speakers at the inaugural edition of the Africa Fashion Week Textile and Garment manufacturing conference last weekend in Lagos. The theme of the conference, which had in attendance policy makers, development finance institutions, bilateral trade institutions, fashion entrepreneurs and manufacturers, was “Making Nigeria the Fashion Hub of Africa.”
Chairman of the conference and president, Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBBC), Dapo Adelegan, said the textile industry was the second largest industry in any nation. Proclaiming that the future of the industry in Nigeria is bright, Adelegan urged that the conference should be used as a platform to encourage investment in the sector, which would ultimately boost the GDP of the country.
Declaring the conference open, Aisha Abubakar, minister of state for industry, trade and investment, said the Federal Government was fully committed to reviving the cotton, textile and garment sector of the manufacturing industry and would also support all parts of its value chain of which fashion was one.
This process, she said, is in line with the core economic mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to create jobs.
The minister outlined some of the steps taken by the government in reviving the CTG sector, such as the creation of an enabling business environment, the repositioning of government agencies like Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and Bank of Industry (BoI), appropriation of funds to the CTG industry and resolution of the issue of multiple taxation.
The minister said: “Government is creating an enabling environment by improving the ease of doing business for which a presidential committee driven by the private sector would be set up. SMEDAN industrial training fund and Bank of Industry are being repositioned to address the MSMES. They are core to the implementation of the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP), which is aimed at generating about five million jobs.
“Funds are being set aside to refinance the CTG sector and address legacy problems including power. Tax incentives and changes in regulations do affect employment. Proposals are being discussed on how the issue of multiple tax can be addressed.”
In his keynote address, Mustapha Akinkunmi, Lagos State commissioner of finance, said the importation of foreign fabrics and clothing, which is as a result of Nigerians’ preference for foreign goods, was hampering the growth and development of the textile industry and the fashion value chain.
This is regrettable in spite of superiority of some local and African apparel such as Adire, Kampala and Ankara to the foreign ones that are being dumped in the country, Akinkunmi said.
He urged young Nigerians in the fashion industry to take advantage of vocational training, micro financing and employment trust fund initiatives of the state government to create innovative designs and apparels, using local fabrics. While decrying the dearth of fashion institutes in the country, he announced the intent of the state to establish centres of excellence for fashion design training at the state owned university and polytechnic.
Speaking on the need for the conference, founder, Africa Fashion Week Nigeria, Ronke Ademiluyi, said: “After six years of creating opportunities for Nigerian designers to excel on the global stage, we were compelled to commit resources to the development of the local fashion industry value chain.
“Without a thriving local value chain, we will be unable to translate the runway success of our designers and fashion entrepreneurs to job creation and shared prosperity for our nation. Our commitment is to improve access to finance for designers, capacity development programmes and establishment of manufacturing hubs.”