News / Africa

Former Nigeria Textile Workers Still Struggling

The closed and dilapidated Arewa Textile Mill in Kaduna, Nigeria, December 5, 2012. (I. Kure - for VOA)
The closed and dilapidated Arewa Textile Mill in Kaduna, Nigeria, December 5, 2012. (I. Kure - for VOA)
Iliya Kure
Adasu Inalegwu, a former textile worker in northern Nigeria, now runs a commercial motorcycle taxi business to support his family. “This is in addition to the small plot of land I cultivate to grow little food to sustain my family. That is the only way to survive,” he says.

Inalegwu lost his job 10 years ago when the Arewa Textile mill closed down. He now lives in a small one bedroom house with his wife and eight children in Tirkania, just outside Kaduna.

Inalegwu’s living conditions may be crowded, but he may be among the lucky ones.

Adamu Maisantaki and many other former textile workers don’t have a piece of land to cultivate, or a small business that makes money, however meager. Every day, Maisantaki goes out looking for menial work so he can bring home something to eat.

“Many of us have no means of livelihood and no hope for another job in a country with millions of unemployed youths,” said Maisantaki.  “We depend on what we get from friends and other relatives – many have seen their children withdrawn from school for nonpayment of school fees.”

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs when the textile mills closed down throughout Nigeria over the past decade. Many have staged demonstrations over the years demanding severance payments and other entitlements.

Some have won court judgments against the textile companies, but their entitlements still have not come through because of legal questions over how to make the payments.
 
Boom then bust 

The first modern textile mill in Nigeria started operation in 1956 in Kaduna. By 1987, the Nigerian textile industry was estimated to be the third largest in Africa, after Egypt and South Africa.

According to Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association, there used to be 180 textile mills employing more than 350,000 workers in the major textile towns of Aba, Asaba, Funtua, Gusau, Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt and Lagos. Three of the biggest and oldest mills were in Kaduna, which used to be called “Textile City.

The industry was generating an estimated $9 billion in annual revenues, and government statistics indicated it directly or indirectly supported more than 17.2 million Nigerians.

But Nigeria’s textile industry began crumbling by the late 1990s. Industry analysts blamed a lack of sufficient electrical power, dwindling domestic cotton production, cheaper textile imports as well as higher energy prices, tighter industry regulation and increased financing costs.

The number of mills quickly sank from 180 to less than 25 in short order.
 
Reason for optimism

Early this year, Nigeria’s minister of trade and investment Olusegun Aganga, said the government was going to address the major factors hurting the textile industry, including the difficulties faced by cotton farmers. Other government officials talk of possible joint ventures between Nigerian and Pakistani textile manufacturers.

Some Nigerian textile companies are taking advantage of the government’s Textile Development Fund to finance the purchase of new production equipment. Others have used fund money to expand their factories.

But Hamma Kwajaffa, an official of the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association, predicted the new fund would not have any significant impact until central government does something about producing enough electrical power. He said Kaduna state had taken a good first step in this direction with a just-completed project to supply industries in the area with 30 megawatts of additional electricity.

Kwajaffa also called on the central government to put a halt to textile smuggling. “Government has done its part by banning (certain textile products), but the smugglers still find their ways,” Kwajaffa said. “Customs lack the personnel to man these borders. The borders are so porous, they (smugglers) have sophisticated guns to deal with officers of the Nigerian Customs, and they have killed many of them at the borders.”

Foreign textile fabrics and materials in a Nigerian shop, December 5, 2012. (I. Kure - for VOA)Foreign textile fabrics and materials in a Nigerian shop, December 5, 2012. (I. Kure - for VOA)
x
Foreign textile fabrics and materials in a Nigerian shop, December 5, 2012. (I. Kure - for VOA)
Foreign textile fabrics and materials in a Nigerian shop, December 5, 2012. (I. Kure - for VOA)
“We cannot compete with imported textiles under the current business environment,” Kwajaffa continued. “Ninety to 95 per cent of all textile materials in the market are foreign material, either from China or India. Some of them are counterfeit products. If smuggling is stopped and counterfeit is stopped then we can be in business again.”

Muhammadu Nura, who runs a shop in Kaduna that sells textiles, confirmed that about 95 per cent of the products are from outside Nigeria and said the government needs to start cracking down.

“We are tired of empty promises of saying the factories will come back to life,” Nura said. “In the past, our customers mostly buy Nigerian materials, but now everybody is asking for foreign fabrics.”

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Chijianya from: America
December 15, 2012 5:51 AM
The closing of an economic institution like Arewa Textile Mills in a country where so many able bodied citizens are unemployed is disheartening. The Federal Ministry of Industries should make it possible for the mill to be revamped through new private partnerships. Steps should also be taken to address the issue of competition from foreign textiles. In some cases these foreign materials are made of low quality materials or materials that are unsuitable for the African tropical climate. The New Arewa Textile Mills management should make every effort to communicate this to the consumers. There is no reason in this whole world why an industry like this should be allowed to close in a nation with millions of potential consumers. Nigerians let's get the Arewa Textile Mills machines running once again. And The Honorable Minister for Industries over to you!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid