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LCCI to reduce forex on paper products imports with Kenaf plantation

LCCI to reduce forex on paper products imports with Kenaf plantation

As part of measures to reduce importation of pulp and paper products into the country and save an ever-increasing capital flight to foreign land, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has begun a strategic working arrangement with the Ogun State Government on the cultivation of Kenaf for production of pulp, paper and packaging products.

The strategic partnership with Ogun State Government, according to the initiators of the programme, will establish a functional paper mill in the State in the long run with a view to producing and processing Kenaf, a multi-purpose bio-economic crop, into the much-needed pulp, paper and packaging products.

Speaking in Abeokuta, Ogun State Capital during a meeting with Kikelomo Longe, the Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment, Layo Okeowo, Chairperson, Printing, Publishing and Packaging Group of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), declared that it’s high time Government at all levels saved the industry from imminent collapse as the contribution from the sector currently stands at 0.08%.

Okeowo, who spoke in company of other LCCI Executives, such as Chinyere Almona, Director-General of LCCI and others, stated that LCCI brings together strategic partners that will contribute finance and expertise to the cultivation and processing of Kenaf into pulp, paper and packaging products in order to meet up with 3 million metric tons annual demand in the country.

While noting that the gestation period for Kenaf is six months, Okeowo said that “Pulp, Paper and Packaging Products as Manufacturing Sub-Sector in Nigeria is one of the core industries and has strong nexus with basic human needs. It’s a prerequisite for education and literacy and its use is an index of advancement in these two fields as well as the overall well-being of society.

Read also: Nigeria misses out on $351bn market as paper mills remain moribund

“According to ScienceDirect, pulp and paper production is one of the largest industries in the world. Total global production rose from 371 million metric tons in 2009 to over 400 million metric tons by 2020. However, pulp and paper product output in Nigeria’s gross domestic product at 0.08 percent indicates capacity utilisation is at the lowest ebb.

“While demand for paper and related products in Nigeria has grown by leaps and bounds, to more than 3 million metric tons annually, installed production capacity stagnates at 200,000 metric tons, thereby making importation of raw materials and finished products inevitable.

“Consequently, Nigeria’s current demand for paper products is being imported with scarce foreign exchange due to inadequate capacity, weak production base and lack of investment. Huge local demand for paper and printing products, therefore, implies opportunities for investment to unlock the commercial and economic potentials in paper and printing value chain.

Responding on behalf of the Ogun State Government, Kikelomo Longe, the Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment, assured the LCCI Delegation of State Government’s readiness to partner with serious investors, saying that “in as much as the public-private partnership will bring economic growth and development that will be mutually-benefited to all the parties, Ogun Government is ready to be involved.”