Nigera's industrial revolution plan unveiled

Nigeria’s industrial sector looks set to beneft from renewed commitment to industrialization. Abundant oil and gas resources riches have brought billions of dollars into its cofers since the early 1960s, leading to a neglect of agriculture, which traditionally provides employment for about 40 percent of the population, and a nascent manufacturing industry. Revenues from oil exports have hampered eforts to diversify the economy, further leading to industry stagnation.

The textile sector is a case in point. “In the mid-1980s, functional textile mills in the country 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 geopolitical zones of Nigeria,” one local journalist wrote in a newspaper article. “The story soon changed 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.”

Nigeria had automobile assembly plants from before independence, producing cars, trucks and buses from completely knocked down parts. But by the 1980s, the sector had entered into difculties owing to the Structural Adjustment Programme which curtailed consumers’ purchasing power and made many Nigerians to settle for imported, fairly used vehicles. Smuggling through porous borders, poor infrastructure and bad government policies also conspired to bring manufacturing to its knees. Millions lost their jobs, exacerbating poverty.