The Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN Dr Dikko Umaru Radda has said The fashion industry in Nigeria is one of the key sectors that will play a key role in the resurgence of the economy given its current performance results. He made this assertion at the National Policy Dialogue on the Fashion Industry held recently in Abuja. He noted that government and the private sector must form synergy that would help create a conducive operating environment that enhances the capacity of practitioners to unlock the benefits that are currently woven into the fabrics of the industry.
According to the Director General, the nigerian clothing and fashion industry remains largely fragmented and underdeveloped, despite efforts and commitment of the federal Government to promote Made in Nigeria goods. He said the sector still suffers from inadequate patronage, including a myriad of structural difficulties.
Dr Radda also posited that the industry has struggled to build a sustainable local market and to keep up with the global fashion industry. He however lamented that lack of structure in skills acquisition and mentorship creates weaknesses in all aspect of the value chain: from business development to access to finance: from access to raw materials to marketing and public relations.
He said no statutory national body exists to supervise curriculum development or facilitate funding for garment manufacturers, while poor infrastructure slows down production and raises costs. Dr Radda added that Nigeria’s textiles market, once known as the third largest in Africa is now redundant and virtually dependent on imports as current data from the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) indicates that Nigeria spent 4 Billion dollars on Importation of textiles in2017.
Dr Radda said the policy dialogue would envision the key and strategic roles the fashion industry must play in reviving the economy of the country given the promise it holds against the backdrop of its over 2 million practitioners spread across a national population estimated to be over 180 million. He added that the opportunities are infinite as over 2 million and 3 million indirect jobs would be created.
Earlier the founder and chief executive of Makulu Clothing Brand, Mr John Oke said the Policy Dialogue was a public intervention of SMEDAN and his company to facilitate , focused broad-based discourse which will translate in developing a road map of forward actions which are first steps toward synergizing the efforts of industry practitioners and stakeholders on one hand and the federal government of Nigeria on another to develop suitable policy frameworks that will stimulate growth across the fashion and clothing industry value chain.
Mr Oke noted that the primary objective was to critically examine Nigeria’s fashion and clothing ecosystem and proffer solutions to the myriad of challenges that are making it impossible for the country to explore to its benefit, the natural advantages that it has in the 14 billion dollars industry.
He stressed the need for government to enact policies that promotes the creation of a business friendly environment, entrepreneurial skills development, access to funding and markets as well as supports innovation, adding it is also vital to the textiles and clothing sector that government deals with the issue of counterfeiting of brands, trademarks designs and models by strengthening legislations that protects intellectual rights and properties.
Oke also called for the establishment governance structures that would help the development of industry best practices protocols and imbibing business methods and ethics that build confidence and attractive to private sector and venture capital funds adding this will assist SMEs to overcome weaknesses in the financial markets.
He lauded the buy Made in Nigeria policy of the federal government, which he said has boosted visibility and patronage for traditional clothes and textiles but lamented that the policy remains cosmetic and grossly inadequate to address the need for a codified roadmap for an industry that is projected to grow to 25 billion dollars over the next 5 years.