In the 1980s, the cotton, textile and garment (CTG) industry in Nigeria employed 600,000 people in its 170 textile mills, generating nearly $9 billion annually, and was the second-largest textile producer in Sub-Saharan Africa, trailing only South Africa, according to AllAfrica.com.
By 2010, however, there were fewer than 25 textile mills left in the country and employed a mere 24,000 people. A number of factors contributed to the decline, including smuggling and counterfeiting, outdated equipment, unrestricted textile imports, a lack of skilled labor, and expensive credit.
The demise of the textile industry had a domino effect on cotton production, which fell from 98,000 metric tons in 2006 to only 55,000 metric tons in 2010. The revenue generated from cotton exports plummeted from $44 million to $31 million during that five-year period.
But things are looking up for Nigeria thanks to a 2010 $635 million government intervention initiative designed to resurrect the flagging CTG industry. Two years after being introduced, the effects are being felt:
- textile production capacity utilization jumped from 29% in 2010 to almost 50% in 2011;
- mothballed textile mills have reopened, restoring more than 8,000 jobs that had been suspended; and
- more than 5,000 new jobs have been created.
The positive results are expected to gain even more momentum in coming years because those results have been achieved with only part of the funding, since nearly 60% of the money earmarked for the initiative has yet to be disbursed.