The Nigerian leather industry has a rich historical background that spans several centuries. Traditionally, various communities across the country have been actively engaged in producing leather goods such as footwear, bags, and accessories. These traditional craftsmanship skills have been passed down through generations, establishing a strong foundation for the present-day industry.
Nigeria is endowed with abundant natural resources that are vital to the success of the leather industry. The country’s livestock resources are diverse and include cattle, goats, and sheep, which serve as the primary sources of raw materials for the industry.
With a ready supply of high-quality hides and skins, Nigeria has emerged as one of Africa’s leading producers of leather and finished leather products. A study conducted by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) indicates that the Nigerian leather industry has the potential to generate more than $1 billion by the year 2025.
Presently, the leather and leather products industry in Nigeria provides employment opportunities for over 750,000 workers, with approximately 500,000 individuals working in the sector that focuses on finished leather goods.
According to the NESG’s projections, the Nigerian leather industry has the potential to increase its earnings by 70 percent by 2025. As of 2022, exports amounted to approximately $800 million, with Italy, Spain, India, South Asia, and China being the major destinations for Nigeria’s semi-finished and finished leather products.
Despite its potential, the industry has faced several challenges over the years, including limited infrastructure, a lack of modern technology, and insufficient access to global markets.
In recent times, the Nigerian government and various stakeholders recognised the immense potential of the leather industry and embarked on revitalisation efforts. These initiatives focused on infrastructure development, skill enhancement, and promoting the value chain of the sector.
Nigerian Institute of Leather Science and Technology (NILEST), with nine extension centres established across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria, is an example of the initiative from the government to revive and boost the country’s leather market while the Lagos Leather Fair (LLF) was carved by the private sector for the same effect.
As a result, the industry experienced a resurgence, attracting local and international investments.
Rise of the Lagos Leather Fair
The Nigerian leather industry has experienced substantial growth, thanks in part to initiatives like the Lagos Leather Fair. This event has had a positive impact on the country’s economy by creating numerous job opportunities in both formal and informal sectors. Craftsmen, artisans, designers, as well as supporting industries such as logistics, marketing, and retail have all benefited from this growth.
Celebrating its sixth anniversary, the Lagos Leather Fair has become a significant platform for showcasing the untapped potential of the African leather industry. The event gathers key stakeholders including manufacturers, designers, artisans, and fashion enthusiasts to promote and celebrate Nigeria’s leather craftsmanship. It offers a unique opportunity for local businesses to exhibit their products, establish connections, and explore partnerships on a national and international scale.
Femi Olayebi, founder of the Lagos Leather Fair, considers the sixth edition to be a significant milestone. The overarching vision is to ensure that the leather sector contributes significantly to Nigeria’s economy and the broader African narrative by driving positive change and addressing key challenges in the industry’s supply chain.
This year’s edition, known as “LLF 2023,” with the theme: ‘Staying Ahead: Creativity Collaboration | Commitment’ will take place on June 17 and 18, 2023, at the Balmoral Convention Centre in Victoria Island, Lagos.
Impact of Lagos Leather Fair on Nigeria’s Leather Industry
The Lagos Leather Fair has emerged as a catalyst for economic growth and increased visibility for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria’s leather industry. By attracting international buyers, retailers, and fashion influencers, the fair has successfully elevated the profile of Nigerian leather products on a global scale.
For instance, AABOUX, a stakeholder in the Nigerian leather industry, specialises in handcrafting luxurious leather brands using a stitch-less technique. The company’s participation in the Lagos Leather Fair has provided an excellent platform to showcase their products to a wide audience and establish themselves as a player and advocate for Nigerian and African products.
This exposure not only boosts sales but also helps build a positive reputation for Nigerian leather as a fashionable and high-quality choice. Additionally, the fair contributes to skills development through workshops, masterclasses, and panel discussions, fostering innovation and supporting the growth of SMEs in the sector.
LLF2023 will feature Pitch-A-LeatherBiz, a pitching session where Individual brands will pitch their business ideas to prospective investors before an audience. It will also be introducing LLF Awards, to honour outstanding leather designers.
Mark your calendar for the next Lagos Leather Fair and become a catalyst for the growth of Nigeria’s leather industry. Together, we can shape a prosperous future and showcase the world-class craftsmanship that Nigerian leather has to offer.