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How to revive Nigeria’s neglected leather industry

Wilson Erumebor


Apart from the abundance of natural and human resources, Nigeria represents the largest economy in Africa with equally huge market given its population size-180 million. Despite these comparative advantages, the country has underperformed in charting an inclusive and sustainable growth strategy over the decades. A cursory look at the structure of the Nigerian economy reveals that one of the leading sectors in Nigeria driving national output, employment and export is agriculture sector. The sector, which currently accounts for about 24% of GDP, has been acclaimed to have the potential of contributing about 65% to employment generation and 50% export share if its vast and enormous value-adding opportunities in agro-industry are explored. Nigeria has the largest resource of goatskin and kidskin in Africa representing 46% and 18% of total in West Africa and Africa, respectively. There is need for value addition in Nigeria's leather value chain to upgrade its position in the regional and global trade of leather commodities with varying implications on intra- and intertrade, backward integration, employment generation, industrial deepening, increased productivity and competitiveness. However, the lingering challenges in the industry such as structural barriers, poor visibility and lack of government intervention have led to revenue loss of about $300 million annually. Given the focus of the government towards economic diversication and support for the implementation of an agriculture-led industrialization as specied in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the government needs to explore the inherent opportunities in the leather industry through promoting public-private partnership, providing scal incentives as well as enhancing technology and human capital development in the industry.