Promoting Sustainable Nigerian Leather Products in the Global Market
The term “globalization” gained popularity in the early 1990s; with technological advancement, it has continued to shape modern everyday life, making it a global village whilst growing interdependence of the world’s economies, cultures, and populations. Countries have built economic partnerships to facilitate the continued surge in cross-border trade in goods and services, technology, and flows of investment, people, and information.
With a long history of producing high-quality leather products, Nigeria has a rich heritage of leather production, and to build a sustainable ‘Made-in-Nigeria’ brand, it is essential to promote Nigerian leather products in the global market.
Globalisation has made the global market indeed a global village through technology. To aid the balance of trade, countries must ensure it manufactures for local consumption and then produces with a mindset of exporting to foreign countries. To achieve this, its products must first meet global standards and receive acceptance from its local market. Nigeria is at a vantage point to promote African leather products in the global market, being one of the continent’s biggest producers and exporters of raw leather materials.
With advanced technology from developed economies to reduce the cost of production, coupled with their capacity to export, local consumers in developing economies have easy access to imported products which has adverse effects on the local economy, such as unemployment and a decrease in demand for locally produced goods. As the world continues to evolve, it is important to balance importing goods and supporting local businesses to improve GDP and the economy.
The benefits of manufacturing goods locally in a nation instead of importing should not be overlooked. It has a long-term value on a country’s economy than the latter. Any developing country seeking economic growth should endeavour to reduce importation to the bare minimum and utilize local resources, even if it does not have the required production capacity for export purposes. In the case where a country starts focusing on manufacturing its products locally, there will be an increase in the employment rate; the currency will be valuable and local culture will be strengthened. In Nigeria, for instance, products manufactured locally are referred to as “Made-in-Nigeria goods”.
The manufacturing sector in Nigeria has several sub-sectors, such as Petroleum and coal products, electrical equipment, appliances and components, printing and related support activities, textile apparel, leather and footwear, fabricated metal products, chemical and pharmaceutical products, food, beverage and tobacco products, paper products, furniture and related products, plastics and rubber products, and transportation equipment, among others continue to play a significant role in generating employment, increasing productivity, and driving economic growth for the nation. The sector has also contributed to the country’s quest to move away from oil dependency and lean towards the green economy.
One of the sub-sectors that has proven resourceful in contributing to the Made-in-Nigeria project and zero oil initiative is the Leather industry. With the total trade of leather products presently between $300 and $400 billion globally, experts believe that Nigeria could account for 15 to 20 per cent to hit $20 billion by 2025. According to recent statistics, the Nigerian leather industry is estimated to be worth over $1 billion and is expected to grow annually by 2.88% (Compound Annual Growth Range 2023-2028). As the third largest in Africa, after South Africa and Ethiopia, the Nigerian leather industry is also a vital source of employment and income for many Nigerians, especially those in rural areas. The industry provides employment to over 750,000 people, with many jobs in tanning, leather goods production, and especially the fashion industry.
Leather has continued to remain a versatile and essential material in the fashion industry, offering durability, luxury, and timeless style for both men and women. Due to its durability and luxurious appeal, it is widely used in various forms of fashionable items such as shoes, bags, jackets, belts, and other accessories.
In contributing to the growth of sustainable Made-In-Nigeria products, a game changer in the leather industry, Lagos Leather Fair, has consistently given leather designers the platform to showcase their expertise for six years now. Established and emerging designers now have the opportunity to showcase their designs and gain recognition in the Nigerian and African leather industries. The annual fair provides a much-needed and solution-based networking platform for leather designers and other players in Nigeria and other African countries to promote and showcase Made-in-Africa and local talent.
According to the founder of Lagos Leather Fair, Mr Femi Olayebi, “The annual celebration of the Lagos Leather Fair is a proof point of our unflinching commitment towards finding sustainable solutions to scale the African leather industry and ensure that the Made-in-Nigeria Project and Zero-Oil Initiative becomes a reality. For over five years, we have created an enabling environment for key players to maximise the potential of the leather industry. We are delighted about LLF2023 and look forward to its significant impact in Nigeria and across Africa.”
This year’s edition, themed Staying Ahead: Creativity, Collaboration, Commitment, is set to improve the narrative that encourages sustainable Made in Nigeria business. Through the proposed LLF Lab and Accelerator programme, leather designers will have access to mentorship and development programs from entrepreneurs who are already experts in the industry.
LLF 2023 will also feature a series of local and international speakers who will share insights on relevant conversations that affect the African leather industry and a well-curated series of workshops for up-and-coming designers willing to thrive as a manufacturer in Nigeria. The workshops for budding leather designers will feature branding workshops where the fundamentals of branding will be explored, a shoe-making workshop to provide a basic understanding of shoemaking techniques and a social media/marketing presentation using a case study review of different brands.
The Lagos Leather Fair is set to hold on June 17 and 18 at the Balmoral Convention Centre, Victoria Island, and just like the five editions done in the past, LLF 2023 is anticipated to continue from the previous years by strengthening the narrative that ensures the Made-in-Nigeria Project and Zero-Oil Initiative become a reality and fostering the nation’s talent and economic growth.