• Monday, July 22, 2024
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Exploring Nigeria’s leather market: An analysis


Picture this: You’re strolling through the bustling markets of Kano, surrounded by the rich aroma of freshly tanned leather and the vibrant colours of artisan-crafted goods. As you admire the intricate designs of leather bags, shoes, and accessories, you can’t help but wonder about the immense potential of Nigeria’s leather market.

Nigeria boasts a long-standing tradition of leather craftsmanship, with centuries-old techniques passed down through generations. From the traditional tanneries of Kano to the modern manufacturing hubs in Lagos and Aba, the country’s leather industry has played a significant role in both cultural heritage and economic development.

Furthermore, Nigeria boasts a robust livestock population, with an estimated 20 million cattle, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. This translates to a readily available supply of raw materials – the lifeblood of any leather industry. Moreover, the nation’s burgeoning middle class, with growing disposable incomes, presents a significant domestic market for finished leather products.

The global luxury market is also taking notice. A 2021 report by McKinsey & Company highlights a growing demand for high-end, ethically sourced leather goods, an area where Nigeria, with its rich artisanal traditions, could carve a niche.

However, beyond its cultural significance, Nigeria’s leather market presents a myriad of opportunities and challenges that warrant a closer examination.


Abundant Raw Materials: Nigeria is endowed with vast cattle herds, making it a prime source of high-quality hides and skins. With proper investment in processing facilities, the country can capitalise on its abundant raw materials to meet both domestic and international demand.

Growing Demand: As global consumer preferences shift towards ethically sourced and sustainable products, there is a rising demand for leather goods made with environmentally friendly practices. Nigeria has the potential to position itself as a leader in sustainable leather production, catering to this growing market segment.

Export Potential: With the right infrastructure and policies in place, Nigeria can leverage its strategic location and trade agreements to access international markets. Countries like Ethiopia have successfully tapped into the global leather market, serving as a prime example of the export potential for Nigerian leather products.


Infrastructure Deficits: Limited access to reliable electricity, water, and transportation infrastructure poses significant challenges to the growth of Nigeria’s leather industry. Without adequate infrastructure, manufacturers face higher production costs and logistical hurdles.

Quality Control: Inconsistent quality standards and a lack of regulatory oversight contribute to perceptions of Nigerian leather products as inferior in global markets. Addressing these issues is crucial to enhancing the reputation and competitiveness of Nigerian leather goods.

Skills Shortage: Despite a rich tradition of craftsmanship, Nigeria needs more skilled labour in the leather industry. Investing in vocational training and education programmes can help bridge this gap and foster a new generation of skilled leather artisans.


Sustainable Practices: Increasing awareness of environmental and ethical concerns drives demand for sustainably produced leather goods. Nigerian manufacturers are embracing eco-friendly practices, such as chrome-free tanning and waste recycling, to meet this growing trend.

Technological Innovation: Advancements in technology, such as digital design tools and automated manufacturing processes, are revolutionising the leather industry. Nigerian entrepreneurs are embracing these innovations to enhance efficiency and product quality.

E-commerce Growth: The rise of e-commerce platforms presents new opportunities for Nigerian leather artisans to reach a global audience. By leveraging online marketplaces, artisans can overcome traditional barriers to entry and access untapped markets.

Nigeria’s leather market holds immense potential for growth and development, but overcoming challenges and capitalising on opportunities will require concerted efforts from government, industry stakeholders, and entrepreneurs alike. By learning from success stories like Ethiopia’s thriving leather industry and embracing emerging trends, Nigeria can position itself as a leading player in the global leather market.

Top 10 leather craftsmanship hubs in Nigeria

While there isn’t an official ranking of Nigeria’s leather craftsmanship hubs, here are 10 locations renowned for their leatherworking traditions.

Kano: Undisputedly the heart of Nigeria’s leather industry, Kano boasts a rich history and the sprawling Lakwandile market, a centre for leather goods and accessories.

Aba: This city in Abia State is known for its shoemaking industry, with a thriving market for both handmade and factory-produced leather footwear.

Sokoto: Sokoto is famous for its “Kalabawa” leather, a type of soft, lightweight leather traditionally used for clothing and bags.

Akwa Ibom: Leathercraft is a significant aspect of Akwa Ibom’s cultural heritage, with skilled artisans crafting sandals, belts, and other items.

Ogun State: The city of Abeokuta in Ogun State is known for its “Adire” textiles, often incorporating leather embellishments, showcasing a unique blend of crafts.

Maiduguri: The capital of Borno State has a leatherworking tradition, with artisans specialising in items like saddles, horse gear, and other utilitarian goods.

Taraba State: Jalingo, the capital of Taraba State, is known for its production of “Langai” sandals, a popular footwear choice in the region.

Gombe State: Leatherworking is practised in Gombe State, with production focused on everyday items like bags and wallets.

Kaduna State: Kaduna has a leatherworking scene, with some artisans specialising in decorative leatherwork for furniture and home decor.

Oyo State: Oyo State, particularly the city of Oyo, has a history of leatherworking, with the production of items like belts, pouches, and musical instruments.

It’s important to note:

This list is not exhaustive, and there are likely other pockets of leather craftsmanship throughout Nigeria.

The level of activity and product specialisation can vary within these locations.

Stephen Ikechukwu Onyekwelu
“In the practical use of our intellect, forgetting is as important as remembering.” William James

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