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Textile industry on verge of extinction, says manufacturers

The Director General of the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers’ Association gave the warning in an interview on Monday in Lagos.

Kenya shilling coins and notes are pictured inside a cashier's booth at a forex exchange bureau in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Mr Hamma Kwajaffa, Director-General, NTMA, gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos.

He urged the CBN to allow NTMA members access to forex.

According to him, the industry is on the brink of crisis as the few existing textile manufacturers are set to suspend production due to non-availability of forex for procurement of raw materials.

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NAN reports that the apex bank had on Nov.7 said that $660 million was released to manufacturers through the inter-bank market to source raw materials and spare parts.

Kwajaffa, however, said that no textile manufacturer had accessed foreign exchange, in spite of the numerous letters of credit by them.

“To access foreign exchange, we have to go through our banks; but our banks keep telling us that they do not have foreign exchange to give.

“The situation has impeded our production activity because most of our production components cannot be sourced locally.

“By now, many companies ought to have fabrics in the market against Christmas season but they cannot do that.

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“Some of the manufacturers have already stopped production, and it is becoming difficult to convince others not to suspend production,” Kwajaffa said.

According to the director-general, the foreign exchange challenge is not only hindering production but also efforts at revitalising the textile industry.

“At the peak of the economic boom in the early 80s, Nigeria had 84 textile mills. The number has dropped to 24 now.

“The workforce in these industries nationwide has also been reduced from 250,000 to about 20,000.

“Worried about the situation, government has been making frantic efforts through consultations and intervention funds to revive this ailing sector.

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“But the present situation might cripple all efforts geared towards injecting life into the industry.

“A lot is at stake if the present situation is not addressed urgently,” he said.

Kwajaffa called for improved collaboration between the apex bank and commercial banks in the allocation of foreign exchange to manufacturers.

He said that textile manufacturers’ access to raw materials would translate to enhanced production, job creation, a thriving textile industry and increased contribution to gross domestic product.

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