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Leather an obvious choice for Nigeria

The figures leading the Sokoto Investment Company Limited (SICL), the investment facilitator that is backing the new leather cluster in north-west Nigeria, have said leather is an obvious sector for the country to look to for economic development.

SICL chairman, Tukur Umar, and managing director, Muhammadu Buhari Dasuki, have said the federal government of Nigeria has long recognised that the country needs economic diversification “beyond and after oil”. As part of that, the government acknowledges the importance of the leather sector, the SICL leadership team insists.

At the time of the launch of the Sokoto project, called Pan African Leather, they told World Leather: “The national leather and leather products policy will enable government to attract more investment into the sector, as well as harness the country’s leather resources. Policy changes have been and are being adopted to create an enabling environment, including infrastructure development , quality accreditation and standards, fiscal measures and incentives, skills development and innovation and local patronage.”

Pan African Leather will include, in its first phase, the construction of a new tannery, Sokoto Tan, and a leather footwear production plant, Sokoto Shoe. SICL is hopeful of completing all the necessary preparatory work in the early part of 2019 and of starting production within two years.

Government minister for science and technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, said last year that Nigeria is the second-biggest exporter of leather in Africa and eighteenth in the world, but that there is still great potential to expand the industry and to end the practice of exporting raw or semi-finished material to other countries. Dr Onu emphasised the importance of this in fighting poverty and in creating jobs and wealth.

SICL’s leaders have said it is “unbelievable” that with Nigeria’s population in excess of 180 million people, it is currently only producing 1.6 million pairs of shoes each year. “We intend to increase that number and change the way that ‘Made in Sokoto’ is viewed,” they commented.

SICL has contributed an initial round of seed funding for Pan African Leather. The project is being coordinated by London-based Pan African Enterprises (PAE), a social partnership platform that seeks to contribute to economic development, industry and innovation in Nigeria. 

Image shows, standing (left to right): Bashir Gidado, Sokoto state commissioner for commerce, industry and tourism, Sir Richard Gozney, strategic adviser to PAE and former UK high commissioner to Nigeria, Tukur Umar, chairman of SICL. Seated (left to right) are: Muhammadu Buhari Dasuki, managing director of SICL, and Dawn Spetale, chief executive officer of PAE.

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