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The global manufacturing map is changing fast, raising questions about the future of the Nigerian textile industry. On one hand, the country’s manufacturing sector faces higher costs at home, cheaper competition abroad and a global economic slowdown, compelling some textile firms to outsource and offshore lower skilled production to cheaper labor markets in Africa.

On the other hand, more and more Private and Government firms are investing in technological innovation, oil, specialization and quality upgrades, contributing to the development of the country’s advanced manufacturing sector. But as some garment and textile industry producers move up the value chain, others are struggling with issues like long-term sustainability and worker welfare. Can Nigeria still compete as Africa’s fashion factory?

Workers at a textile factory

It has been reviewed that the textile industry was one of the booming sub-sectors of the economy in the post-independence years. Fed by locally grown cotton and with huge demand for clothing by a fast-growing population, it provided direct and indirect employment to hundreds of Nigerians for several decades.

In the golden era of Nigeria’s textile industry between 1985 and 1991, the sector recorded an annual growth of 67 per cent and as of 1991; it employed about 25 per cent workers in the nation’s manufacturing sector.
In that period the functional textile companies numbered around 180, employing about a million people, it accounted for over 60 per cent of the textile industry capacity in West Africa, empowering millions of households across all the geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

The story however changed in the early nineties and the sector took a massive dive into an industrial abyss. At a point during the crisis in the sector, from about 180 thriving textile companies, the number came down to almost zero, with textile giants such as United Nigerian Textile Company bowing to the pressure imposed by a hostile operating environment.

The Federal Government in 2009 set up the N100bn intervention fund for the textile industry. The Textile and Garment (CTG) Intervention Fund is managed and disbursed by the Bank of Industry (BOI). However, the fund is yet to bring the textile industry back to his former glory. According to the Coalition of Closed Unpaid Textiles Workers in Kaduna an estimated 600, 000 people are still rendered jobless in the industry.

textile 2

These companies began to close down one after the other. Some of the Textile firms that have closed down most recently include the International Textile Industry (ITI) with factories in Isolo and Ikorodu, both in Lagos, with 800 people losing their jobs. First Spinners Limited, Ikorodu, Lagos, with about 500 employees; Bhoir Textile Industry with about 700 people and Reliance Textile, Ikeja, Lagos, with about 500 employees have also folded.

Investigations reveal that Nigeria imports about N300bn worth of textiles and garments annually according to the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria. Most of the textiles and garments were imported without paying the required duties and taxes. Smuggled textiles have taken over 90 per cent of the Nigerian market.

The bank of industry as at last year released another fund for upcoming textile and fashion designers. All hope may not be lost for the industry, as we pray for globalization to work its magic.

Fashion, Update and News

(CNN) — Teta Isibo had always had a flair for design but she didn’t realize she could make a career out of it until the time she asked an artisan to craft a pair of earrings she’d drawn.

“My friends all loved them,” recalls the Rwandan designer. “So friends started placing orders, and then friends of friends — so it’s gradually evolved through the years from a hobby to an actual full time business.”


That business is Inzuki Designs, the startup Isibo launched in 2010 after deciding to quit her land management job to embark on her entrepreneurial journey. Fusing traditional craftsmanship with contemporary bold designs, the Africa-inspired fashion brand quickly had people buzzing.

Rwanda has so much potential in terms of the traditional craftsmanship skills.
Teta Isibo, Inzuki Designs founder

“Inzuki means bees,” says Isibo, explaining the inspiration behind the company’s name. “It’s an attitude, like a sweet but fierce attitude; the way bees give honey so they have that sweet aspect, but then you can’t really mess with them because they would sting you.”


What started with one pair of earrings has now become a growing business that specializes in handmade jewelry, accessories and interior décor. Its colorful and vibrant products are made with local raw materials by various cooperatives in and around the Rwandan capital of Kigali.

“Rwanda has so much potential in terms of the traditional craftsmanship skills, in terms of the raw materials you can find here,” says the young entrepreneur, “but I felt that we weren’t really living up to that potential.

“Everything you’d find on the market was …very touristy stuff and I wanted to create something that Rwandans as well would love to wear, [something they] would love to say ‘this was made in Rwanda.'”


Fashion, Update and News

Reuse. Reduce. Recycle.

That is the mantra of environmentalists. This should also be our collective mantra as humans.

From the fig leaves and animal hides used as clothing for the early man, the linen of ancient Egypt, the silks developed in the Chinese dynasty and finally to the denims, polyester and a whole lot of other fabrics, man has always been a fashionable creature.

Although “fashionable” here is a broad term, all these lead to one of the three major demands by man; clothing. But for how long shall we continue to ignore the impacts the fashion industry has on the environment?

When we think of the impacts human activities have on the environment, our mind directly zeroes to the agricultural sector, industrial and then the manufacturing sector.

We do not always think of the shoes on our feet and the shirt on our backs. The impact of fashion and the fashion industry is of little or no interest because as far as most people are concerned, there isn’t any. However, ‘fast fashion’ i.e. fashion that is produced quickly to capture that latest trend, cheap and easily disposable, also has a role in issues facing the environment.

The fashion business involves complex processes such as raw material production, textile manufacture, clothing construction, shipping, retail and finally disposal.

There is hardly any data providing information about the emissions generated by the fashion industry worldwide. This might be due to the complicated processes listed above. From the documentary “The True Cost”, a 2015 feature length film by Andrew Morgan discussing the impacts of fashion on man and the environment, fashion is the second world polluter after oil, having after-effects such as river and soil pollution, pesticide contamination and even death.

The film arose after the Savaar building collapse in 2013, when a commercial building called Rana Plaza collapsed, killing over 1000 people. Shocking isn’t it?

Cotton, while being the smartest choice for natural produce, is one of the most water intensive crops requiring about 5000 gallons of water just to produce T-Shirt and a pair of jeans.

impact of fashion on the environment

Cultivation of cotton requires intense application of fertilizers and pesticides leading to pollution of soil and ground water, and enrichment of nearby water bodies by the process called eutrophication.

Synthetic fabrics, while not as water intensive, often have issues leading to pollution. Dyeing, bleaching and printing are processes that emit toxic chemicals hazardous to human and environmental health.

An estimated 17 to 20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment and an estimated 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used throughout the world to turn raw materials into textiles, many of which will be released into freshwater sources. And it is not only the production of raw material that is water-intensive, the wet processing of clothing, such as washing and dyeing, also consumes huge amounts of water.
– (Assessing The Environmental Impact of The Fashion World, 2014)

The Nigerian textile industry has become redundant in recent years. With this in mind, there has been a need to import almost everything we wear.

impact of fashion

According to the article, Fast Fashion Is the Second Dirtiest Industry in the World, Next to Big Oil by EcoWatch;

Globalization means that your shirt has likely traveled halfway around the world in a container ship fueled by the dirtiest of fossil fuels. A current trend in fashion retail is creating an extreme demand for quick and cheap clothes and it is a huge problem. Your clothes continue to impact the environment after purchase; washing and final disposal when you’re finished with your shirt may cause more harm to the planet than you realize.

It is clear we are putting a strain on the environment. But for sustainable development to occur, more effort should be made to mitigate the negative effects of the apparel sector.

Government, private investors, fashion designers and all stake involved should be made aware of the effect their activities have on the environment.

Remember, for a better, more sustainable environment you can go green and still look fabulous.

By Victor Anunobi