Nigeria imports close to 20 million pairs of shoes yearly despite its manufacturing capacity which could meet local demand and even produce for export, a sub-sector assessment of the Nigerian leather industry by Chemonics International Inc. has revealed.
The report also disclosed that the country’s neglect of this all-important sector has seen her losing out on the $72 billion global leather industry and trailing behind less endowed countries on account of her dependence on oil.
It noted that with with long- term investment, Nigerian stakeholders could potentially share what may develop into a $104 million market for Nigeria over the next ten years.
“This increased market will be accompanied by a substantial increase in the industry’s employment level,” the report said, noting that increase in disposable income was fuelling international demand for high quality leather shoes, jackets, handbags and upholstery.
While observing that the market for leather products was growing steadily at three per cent per annum, the report pointed out that although developed countries are the major consumers of finished leather products, they export the bulk of raw hides traded globally to developing countries for processing.
“These value-adding developing countries, who are unable to keep up with the demand for tanned leather and finished leather products, are constantly seeking new sources of supply and are looking to West Africa as a potential source.
“Nigeria already has a thriving export market; the skin of Nigeria’s Red Sokoto goat commands a premium in the international market, especially from Italy. All of the resources for tanning and producing leather products are available locally, including a large domestic and regional animal population. With strategic utilisation of these resources, Nigeria could greatly increase their market share of the global leather and leather goods market.
“Nigeria also has a prosperous local food market for raw hides and skins, called “Ponmo,” which is considered a delicacy. Currently the demand for “Ponmo” competes and wins against the demand for tanning, receiving five times the price for products with fewer quality demands,” it said.
The report advised that the manufacturing industry needs more sources of quality inputs if it hopes in order to fully utilise its manufacturing capacity for leather products.
It also added that leather products industry has tremendous potential to generate foreign exchange and create employment, especially for women, in Nigeria.