By investing in certain tree species that have a shorter gestation period of six months and developing a backward integration plan for the paper and pulp industry, Nigeria may be able to revive ailing paper manufacturing firms and conserve foreign exchange.
Stakeholders in the industry have stated that unavailability of raw materials is one of the major reasons why investors are shying away from the nation’s multi-billion dollar paper industry.
They noted that there is an urgent need to partner the South-western States in the country to engage in mass production of raw materials to achieve a virile paper industry.
According to stakeholders in the industry as well as members of printing and publishing group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Nigeria can address insufficiency in supplies of long fibre pulp by investing in new tree species.
Chairperson of the LCCI Group, Princess Layo Okeowo, during a webinar by the Group tagged “Revitalizing the paper industry: Challenges and opportunities in South-western Nigeria”, noted that while the option of sourcing foreign exchange to import the pulp in the immediate was considered as an interim solution, designing a programme that would see Nigeria grow plantations of suitable trees as a long-term solution was equally proffered, but the latter option was never pushed for implementation.
“However, the good news is, research has shown that tree species needed for manufacturing woodfree bond paper can be grown in Nigeria with a gestation period of 6months and not 12years or more as formerly believed. This means that paper production in Nigeria is doable and we only need to share the knowledge across board.
“Nigeria paper industry needs clusters of smart investors who can tap into the potential of raw material availability in the country. The major area of investment will be the aspect of machinery as the raw materials needed will be readily available.