PHOTOS: The Sad State of Nigeria’s Once Glorious Textile Industry

Between 1960 to late 80s, Nigeria’s textile industry was at its peak, generating over $2billion, annually and with a production capacity of more than 1.4 billion different pieces of textile products, including African prints, shirting, bed sheets, furnishing fabrics, towels, embroidery lace, table and bed linen, guinea brocades, wax prints, java prints, jutes and fishing nets, Nigeria’s Kaduna state was referred to as the Textile City because it housed giant integrated mills and had the headquarters of the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association (NTMA).

In this period, Kaduna State alone housed about 11 textile companies, including the Arewa Textile Plc, Fantext Nigeria Ltd, Notext Nigeria Ltd, Super text Ltd, United Nigeria Textile Ltd etc

Nigeria then was the largest producer of different range of textile, garment and carpet products surpassed in production only by Egypt and South Africa.

What remains of these today is a shadow of the past, derelict and in comatose.

Nigeria's textile industry
A gate of the closed-down Unitex textile factory is seen in Kaduna, Nigeria.
Nigeria's textile industry
A production department of a textile factory is seen abandoned in Kaduna, Nigeria.
Nigeria's textile industry
Cotton-sorting machines are seen at a closed-down textile factory in Kaduna, Nigeria.
Nigeria's textile industry
Workers’ cards are seen at a closed-down textile factory in Kaduna, Nigeria.

Recent attempts at revival

Attempts have been made by successive administrations in Nigeria to revive the comatose industry.

  • In 2009, the Nigeria Government introduced a bailout fund of N100billion under the management of the Bank of Industry (BoI) to provide credit facility to financially-challenged firms operating in the CTG industry at six per cent interest rate for a seven-year tenure, but most plants have remained closed ever since despite the reported N60billion already disbursed.
  • In 2014, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) under former President Goodluck Jonathan considered and approved the Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) policy to reposition the industry again.
  • The Nigeria Government in its 2017 budget, allocated N51bn ($162 million) to develop the garment and textile sector.
A meter displays a pump reading at a closed-down textile factory in Kaduna, Nigeria.
A notice board hangs next to a door at a closed-down textile factory in Kaduna, Nigeria.

Statistics from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment revealed that between 1980 and 2016, about 145 companies out of the 175 mills in the country In the 80s have shut down.

While barely 30 companies are still operational, the ruin in which most of the abandoned mills lie, raises the questions if the money allotted to revitalize the industry is the answer.

Beyond the budgetary allocations, a few reasons why Nigeria’s  textile industry could still remain dormant 

Poor Power supply

The resuscitation of the 215 megawatt Kudandan Power Plant will be key to the ambitions of Kaduna textile mills,  but with continuous epileptic power supply in the country dropping at 2,662 megawatts last month, revival could still be a pipe dream.

A petrol pump stands at a closed-down textile factory in Kaduna, Nigeria.

Cheap Foreign imports

One main reason the Nigerian Textile industry collapsed is imported textile materials from China, Pakistan and Dubai. According to the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, about N300bn worth of textiles and garments are imported annually, Majorly from China.

Textile-weaving machines are covered at a closed-down textile factory in Kaduna, Nigeria.

Corruption

Corruption is the biggest among the challenges in Nigeria. The Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association (NTMA) estimated that about 60% of the 40 million metres of wax fabric imported into the country monthly found their way to Nigeria through smuggling, fuelled by corrupt security operatives posted to man the various entry points into the country

Containers of cotton yarns are seen at a closed-down textile factory in Kaduna, Nigeria.

Forex unavailability

The Nigerian Textile Manufacturers’ Association through its Director-General, NTMA, Mr. Hamma Kwajaffa warned that the industry would face extinction unless the Central Bank of Nigeria would allow manufacturers access to foreign exchange.

But with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) new policy to banks to sell not less than 60 per cent of foreign exchange (forex) to manufacturers for importation of their raw materials, implementation would be key.

A chair stands at the closed-down Unitex textile factory in Kaduna, Nigeria.
Fire extinguishers are seen at an entrance of a closed-down textile factory in Kaduna, Nigeria.

SKILL GAP 

Why Nigeria’s textile industry is clamoring for better policy to compete favorably, a major problem will be skill.

According to Hunsu, For Nigeria’s textile industry to be revitalized, the government must look for a way to dissuade the  youths from riding motorcycle(okada).

“if you want to industrialize the country and you don’t have skillful people to manage the equipment, there would be trouble. So, the government must go back to the drawing board to resuscitated technical education. In those days, before you could be employed in the factory, you must have gone through trade test from level one to three, these are the skills you would acquire.”

A bicycle stands at a closed-down textile factory in Kaduna, Nigeria.
Screens are seen inside a closed-down textile factory in Kaduna, Nigeria.
A closed-down textile factory complex is seen in Kaduna, Nigeria.