Nigeria Imports 80million pair of Shoes as Kano Tanneries Struggle to Survive
Arewa Agenda – Despite its leather manufacturing capacity that could meet local demand and produce for export, Nigeria imports around $500 million (One hundred and ninety-three billion five hundred million naira) worth of leather products including an estimated 80 million pairs of shoes annually.
Nigeria has one of Africa’s largest livestock population with the city of Kano in Northern Nigeria being the largest commercial hub for the leather industry. The tanneries in Kano are virtually neglected as the few operational ones’ work with limited manpower on hides and various skins for brands the world over.
The Kano leather industry’s reach is far beyond what we could imagine as it seems Nigeria’s northern city is the supplier for some of the most prolific brands around the world including Louis Vuitton and Gucci.
These finished leather products are in turn imported to Nigeria as data from World Bank Integrated Trade Solution indicates China, Italy, United States, Cote d’Ivoire, and United Kingdom as the top partner countries from which Nigeria imports foot wears, therefore making it loose out in the $72 billion global leather industry and trailing behind less endowed countries on account of her dependence on oil.
The Nigerian Export Promotion Council has identified finished leather products as one of the ways the country might diversify its economy but the country’s neglect of this all-important sector is proving too costly for Kano States Internal Revenue Generation means and Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product by extension.
The Kano Abattoir at Kofar Mazugal, is the central location where almost all the animal meat consumed in the metropolitan are being slaughtered, butchered and distributed for use.
Daily, about 1000 animals are reportedly slaughtered in this butchery but the state government to begin with has no organized process of utilizing the potentials of the hides and skin for its own benefit
Once slaughtered, each part of the animal is separated distinctly, the skin for consumption are being processed and transported immediately while those for industrial use are being treated for tanneries to come and purchase.
Speaking to Arewa Agenda, Chairman hides and skin processors of Kano State Abatoir lamented lack of government support and intervention in carrying them along to utilize the proper potentials in the skin business for the benefit of the State.
A visit to some of the tanneries in the Challawa industrial area of Kano State, a sector that has been one of the major pivots of the ancient city’s economy since colonial times indicates that everything around this once vibrant, money spinning complex – except for the less than a dozen staff milling about – now looks as dead as it never existed.
Danladi Musa, a Lecturer with the Department of Science Geography, School of Continuing Education, Bayero University Kano bemoaned the manner of the States handling of animal byproducts.
“Everything is useful these animals ranging from the bones for pharmaceutical industries, hides for leather etcetera but they are mostly just being dumped as wastes without proper utilization.” He said, calling for enhanced management practice for the economic benefit of the State.
He assured that the academia will continue to come up with researches to intimate the government about the current status of the byproducts including its economic importance so that the country can compete with those of middle income countries at least if not developed ones.
Kano tanneries, like other leather processing centres, are the beginning point in the leather producing value chain. The tanneries receive hides and skins that have been stripped from slain animals and take them through the tanning process until they become leather. Aside from the usual cow and goat skin, they also specialise in a range of exotic skins like snake and crocodile.
Leather produced at these centers are used to make footwear, bags and clothing and are transported from Kano to various points all over the world.
Instead of just making leather, the State Government can expand the industry by setting up a plant for making and exporting competitive leather products.
Arewa Agenda is a publication of Young Writers for Northern Nigeria towards peaceful coexistence and National development through positive narratives.