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LLF @5: Creating Opportunities for Leather Industry Players Across Sub-Saharan Africa

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LLF @5 leather industry

“The fast-evolving nature of the leather industry in Nigeria is quickly positioning the industry to become the next gold mine for our dear nation — that is, if it is properly explored and harnessed by both industry players and governmental bodies,” Femi Olayebi, CEO FemiHandbags, and Founder, Lagos Leather Fair opined at a leather industry stakeholder event.

Over the years, the Nigerian leather industry has continued to evolve and positively contribute to Africa’s economy both in revenue and in employment opportunities. According to the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), research shows that the industry contributes about 24% of the agricultural sector’s contribution to the GDP in Nigeria.

It is also one of the more significant employers of labour, with over 750,000 workers in the leather processing sector and about 500,000 in the finished leather goods sector. The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) has also projected that the industry could bring in earnings of about US$1 billion by 2025. Undoubtedly, the sector has the potential to metamorphose into the next big deal for Africa’s economy.

In order to make this prediction a reality, whilst simultaneously tapping into the enormous potential of the industry, select leading brands and industry thought leaders are taking up the responsibility — by forging alliances, and launching forward-thinking projects. One such project is the Lagos Leather Fair.

Creating opportunities for African Leather Industry Players

The Lagos Leather Fair (LLF) was created in 2017 by Mrs Femi Olayebi, the Creative Director of FemiHandbags — one of the continent’s leading leather brands. Having experienced, first-hand, the challenges that plague the sector, she was determined to provide a much-needed platform for leather designers to showcase their products, partner with stakeholders to grow the finished leather goods sector and change the narrative within an industry that holds an amazing potential to succeed as major foreign exchange earner.

Driven by these goals, the platform opened its doors to more than 6,900 individuals, businesses, partners, and other stakeholders from all across sub-Saharan Africa between 2017 and 2021. Each edition has created visibility for African leather-focused businesses and has featured revered thought leaders who equip industry players with the requisite knowledge necessary to navigate and grow within the industry.

Over the years, there has been steady growth within the leather industry. Nonetheless, there are prevailing challenges facing the industry.

Many local shoemakers, for instance, do not have access to the advanced technology needed to design high-quality wear for their teeming customers. This is a potential setback, especially when compared with their international counterparts. A large portion of the more established and advanced shoemakers in Lagos are those who design their shoes abroad and then import these shoes to the country for finishing.

Lagos Leather Fair has sought to tackle this challenge by investing in capacity building opportunities, through a series of training partnerships: seeking to bridge the skills gap in the leather and non-leather manufacturing industries; raise the standards; and equip young industry players with the requisite hard and soft skills to navigate the industry. LLF recently partnered with a training program called Kafawa.

The program was designed by My World of Bags in partnership with Mastercard Foundation, and it presents a holistic training experience from basic machine skills to specialised leather-crafting, to soft skills and entrepreneurship classes; since its launch in 2021, the program has directly impacted over 250 micro and small leather business owners across Nigeria. The 2022 edition of LLF will feature these recent graduate trainees within its Emerging Designers segment at the fair.

Made in Nigeria for Nigerians

Several reports have confirmed that many Nigerians have a preference for international brands because of their perceived higher quality than local brand output. A Stears business report revealed that if you ask 100 Nigerians to choose between local or international brands, 92 will choose the international brand, while 8 would be undecided.

In another blind brand experiment conducted amongst Nigerians, 98% claimed that they could differentiate between internationally-made and locally-made shoes. When the shoes were provided to them, however, only 32% could make a distinction. As a result, many companies across diverse industries have launched several consumer-focused campaigns to encourage local shopping, and the leather sector is no different.

Since its inception, the Lagos Leather Fair has curated over 30 masterclasses that have held conversations to change the narrative around made-in-Nigeria, for the leather industry and beyond. A call for Nigerians to shop local will not only develop the leather industry but will have a significant impact on the Nigerian economy at large. Lending their voices to the cause, respected thought leaders Alheri Egor-Egbe from Google, Giovanni Romano from Ithaki Paris, Laduma Ngxokolo from Maxhosa Africa in South Africa, Prof. Yvonne Watson of the Parsons School of Design, New York and a 3-D design expert Baboa Tachie-Mensa from Ghana, and dozens of others have joined in to drive this conversation with LLF over the years. These conversations are well paired with the fair’s spotlight on strong industry brands with premium quality products that have begun indeed to change the narrative.

2022 Outlook

“For us at LLF, the goal is to continue to drive value and draw attention to the leather industry. We believe that we have discovered a gold mine that will not only make our businesses successful but will increase the prosperity of our nation. We will not stop doing the good work until the industry is developed,” said Femi Olayebi, CEO FemiHandbags, and Founder of Lagos Leather Fair.

In 2022, LLF is set to host several initiatives in line with its overarching goals. In commemoration of its 5th anniversary, the platform is set to host another physical fair in Lagos, Nigeria — it will open its doors to leather enthusiasts, producers, manufacturers, lifestyle lovers, fashion experts, and the wider public to showcase leather products and services and keep the spotlight on the vast possibilities within the industry.

This year’s fair will take place at the Balmoral Convention Center at Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos on June 11t and 12. This year, LLF will feature dozens of leather exhibitors, and create opportunities for brands to connect with prospective customers, their peers and other stakeholders; masterclasses to drive conversation; atelier sessions to expose the hidden tricks of leather crafting, and fashion runway showcase to further showcase brands.

LLF has also hinted at the launch of two initiatives that will further drive the industry forward: one is The Leather Portal — a platform that will serve as an e-directory connecting leather designer, brands, tanneries, and hardware suppliers across Nigeria and Africa; another is the Guild of Leather Designers (GOLD), a not-for-profit advisory body that will support the professional development of leather designers, promote best practices, facilitate access to business development tools and serve as a bridge between leather designers and various stakeholders to create an effective and sustainable ecosystem.

There is no better time than now for the government to begin to take a closer look at the leather sector. In 2021, the National Leather and Leather Products Policy Implementation Plan was launched to address specific challenges and shortcomings of the leather sector, with pragmatic strategies to permanently resolve these issues for optimal productivity. Whilst this is a commendable development, there is an urgent need to begin to put that plan to action, and a great first step would be to get a closer glimpse into the happenings in the industry by starting at this year’s Lagos Leather Fair.

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Economy

Nigeria’s Pension Funds Reach N14.27bn as Contributors Near 10 million

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Pension Funds

By Adedapo Adesanya

The National Pension Commission (PenCom) says the total number of registered contributors and the value of pension fund assets stand at 9,795,957 million and N14.27 trillion respectively, as at June 2022.

The Director-General of PenCom, Mrs Aisha Dahir-Umar, gave the figures at a recent workshop themed Increasing Informal Sector Participation In The Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS): The Case for Micro Pension Plan (MPP).

Mrs Dahir-Umar, represented by the Head, Corporate Communications, Mr Abdulqadir Dahiru, said the increasing number of pension funds and contributors was responsible for the recapitalisation of the Pension Fund Administrators (PFA’s) by PenCom.

“The reason for the recapitalisation exercise was to ramp up the capacity of the PFA’s to manage the increasing number of registered contributors and the value of pension fund assets which stood at 9,795,957 million and N14.27 trillion respectively, as at June 30, 2022.

“PenCom increased the Minimum Regulatory Capital (Shareholders’ Fund) requirements of PFAs from N1 billion to N5 billion in 2021.

“All PFAs have complied with the commission’s directive to increase their minimum capital during the exercise which had a 12-month transition between April 27, 2021, and April 27, 2022,” she said.

According to her, the theme of the workshop aligned with the commission’s objective of expanding coverage of the CPS as it relates to the micro pension plan.

The director-general explained that the objective was to bring into the CPS, Nigerians working in the informal sector and those who were self-employed through the MPP.

Mrs Dahir-Umar noted that strategic efforts to drive the MPP remained one of the significant areas of focus of the commission.

She said the MPP was conceptualised to expand pension coverage to the informal sector, including small-scale businesses, entertainers, professionals, petty traders, artisans and entrepreneurs.

“The MPP was implemented to curb old-age poverty by assisting the workers, as mentioned above, to contribute while working and build long-term savings to fall back on when they become old, ” Mrs Dahir-Umar said.

The director-general stated that to create awareness of the MPP, the commission, in collaboration with the Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria, was currently championing an industry media campaign in major cities in the country’s six geopolitical zones.

She said it was expected that the exercise would bring about increased effectiveness and efficiency as well as improved service delivery in the industry.

“Let me re-affirm the commission’s commitment to creating awareness and holding social dialogue on the workings of the CPS with relevant stakeholders towards the smooth implementation of the scheme in Nigeria,” she said.

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Economy

Outrage Over Payment of N18.39bn Daily for Fuel Subsidy

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fuel subsidy

By Adedapo Adesanya

Some Nigerians have started to express anger over the disclosure by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, that the sum of N18.39 billion is used by the federal government daily to pay for fuel subsidy.

Speaking during an investigative hearing of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee looking into the petroleum subsidy regime between 2017 and 2021, the Minister revealed that, “The total amount of subsidy per day is N18.397 billion per day.”

“So, if you are projecting for the full year, it would be N6.715 trillion. If you are projecting for half year, it would be 50 per cent of that,” she informed the lawmakers.

According to the Finance Minister, this was calculated using the information provided by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited and the regulator, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).

She said the information showed that 64.96 million litres of fuel are the projected average daily truck out, adding that N1.774 trillion was paid to independent oil marketers as subsidy in four years.

Aside from the increasing cost of petrol importation, economic and energy experts have continued to decry the rising cost of fuel subsidy by the federal government.

In January, the federal government said it will retain fuel subsidy indefinitely and amended the 2022 budget to provide funds for that purpose, a move that saw the provision jump over 800 per cent to N4 trillion.

Mrs Ahmed, at that time, said the government realised that the timing of the planned removal of the petrol subsidy was problematic and would worsen the suffering of Nigerians.

According to her, all payments on fuel subsidies were supposed to cease from July 2022 but, “subsequent to the passage of the [Finance] Act, we went back to amend the Fiscal Framework that was submitted to the National Assembly to incorporate this demand, but after the budget was passed we have had consultations with a number of stakeholders.

“It became clear that the timing is problematic, that practically there is still heightened inflation, and also removal of subsidy will further worsen the situation, thereby, imposing more difficulties on the citizens, and Mr President clearly does not want to do that.”

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Economy

Naira Exchanges at N694/$1 in Peer-to-Peer FX Segment

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Nigerian Naira

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Naira depreciated against the United States Dollar at the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) window of the foreign exchange market on Thursday by 0.32 per cent or N2 to sell for N694/$1 in contrast to the preceding day’s rate of N692/$1.

However, it closed flat against the greenback in the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment of the FX market at N429.38/$1 amid a slump in the value of transactions at the ecosystem.

According to data from the FMDQ Securities Exchange, forex transactions worth $63.30 million were carried out during the session compared with the $120.46 million reported a day earlier, indicating a decline by $57.16 million or 47.5 per cent.

But at the interbank segment, the local currency moved in the same direction on Thursday, appreciating against the British Pound Sterling and against the Euro.

It was observed that the domestic currency appreciated against the Pound Sterling by N1.72 to trade at N508.24/£1 compared to the previously traded rate of N509.96/£1 and against the Euro, the Naira gained N11.06 to settle at N420.83/€1 compared with the previous day’s N431.89/€1.

Also, in the black market, the domestic currency improved its value by N2 to trade at N678/$1 in contrast to the N680/$1 it was sold on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in the cryptocurrency market, investors counted more losses as the appetite for the digital coins waned, with Shiba Inu (SHIB) dropping 9.9 per cent to sell for $0.00001343 and Dogecoin (DOGE) losing 8.4 per cent to close at $0.07429.

Cardano (ADA) depreciated by 8.1 per cent to settle at $0.4951, Solana (SOL) slumped by 6.2 per cent to sell at $38.30, Binance Coin (BNB) slid by 5.0 per cent to close at $291.64, Ripple (XRP) depreciated by 3.7 per cent to finish at $0.3616, Litecoin (LTC) went down by 3.0 per cent to quote at $58.99, Bitcoin (BTC) recorded a 2.5 per cent drop to end at $22,818.66, while Ethereum (ETH) retreated by 1.5 per cent to trade at $1,817.11, with the US Dollar Tether (USDT) retaining its previous day’s value of $1.00 due to the strong performance of the US Dollar against other currencies.

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