NEPC to sustain intervention in $60bn leather industry

The leather industry is said to be worth over $60 billion annually, and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has assured that its intervention in the leather works value chain by training Nigerian youths will be sustained, even as it graduated the second batch of trainees over the weekend.

Over 200 persons across the country applied for the training, however, only 32 made the selection process for the free two-week intensive training course.

 

Speaking at the graduation ceremony in Ibadan, the Acting Executive Director, NEPC, Mr Abdulahi Sidi-Aliyu, who was accompanied by Southwest Regional Director, Mr Babatunde Faleke, said he was proud of the quality of products on display.

 

Sidi-Aliyu said, “It was after the successful hosting of the first Lagos Leather Fair that the need for an intervention programme to address challenges and enhance performance in the entire leather value chain through capacity building and skill acquisition to scale up production became of utmost importance. The world of leather is worth more than $60billion annually. The leather industry in Nigeria, if properly harnessed, can take advantage of this opportunity.

 

“The Southwest regional office took up the responsibility to address the specific need along the leather value chain to build capacity, train and impact knowledge and practical skills to enhance production of finished high premium leather products that can compete in the international market.

 

“To execute the training, NEPC engaged Femi Handbags, a leader in the leather bags industry, an internationally renowned bag maker, committed to excellence and willing to impact and share the experience of over 25 years in the industry.

 

“The capacity building is aimed at creating a platform that will serve as a nucleus for creating a production hub for finished leather products for export through the engagement of talented youth for two weeks in each quarter.

 

“The partnership with Femi Handbags is in line with the council’s goal of building industrial capacity in sectors where Nigeria has a comparative advantage. It is important to note that the non-oil export is key for economic development and transformation.”

He charged trainees to put their skills to work by producing leather bags of international standard for export.

 

Mr Faleke, at the event, said, “We discovered there was a skill gap in the leather industry and we decided to build capacity to meet up with the demand for leather products.”

 

He commended the Femi Handbags CEO, Mrs Obafemi Olayebi, for being ready and willing to impact skills to others.

 

He called on stakeholders to support the creation of a hub to train more Nigerians in leather works among other skills that will boost the country’s exports.

 

The trainees who came from varying professional and educational backgrounds were required to demonstrate focus and a passion for the trade to be selected.

 

One of the graduating trainees, Phil Iwara, a legal professional, who came in from Port Harcourt, said, “The two weeks here have given direction to my life. I have found what I love doing and I will do it for the rest of my life.”

 

The trainees expressed deep gratitude for the NEPC for the opportunity.

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