From the print media to Nigeria’s hundreds of thousands of schools, millions of offices, and millions of tons of toiletries, to name a few, Nigeria’s demand for paper is huge. But like many once thriving industries that failed to keep up to pace, inadequate local production of paper creates a deep void, left to be filled with imported paper.
There are various statistics on Nigeria’s actual dependency on imported paper. The National Bureau of Statistics’ foreign trade report for the third quarter of 2021 said Nigeria spent N410 billion on importations of paper-making material, paper and paperboard articles.
On the other hand, Nigeria’s imported paper and paperboard, articles of pulp, paper, and board were US$688.06 million in 2021, according to Trading Economic data.
Chief executive officer, FAE Limited, and chairman, of Printing and Publishing Group, LCCI, Princess Funmilayo Bakare Okeowo, says the figures above are underestimations.
Nigeria, Missing Out In The $350 Billion Global Paper Industry
She told Nairametrics that Nigeria imports about 4 million metric tonnes of paper annually, at the rate of between $1,300 and $1,400. That means Nigeria imports at least $5.2 billion worth of paper annually.
On his part, the president/chairman of the council, Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria (CIPPON), Olugbemi Malomo stated in an interview, that every year Nigeria imports paper to the tune of N3 trillion. This is happening as Nigeria is suffering an acute foreign exchange crisis.
But the paper deficit needn’t be what it is. Nigeria does have what it takes to become not only self-sufficient in paper production but also to earn forex from it by exportation.
It is interesting to note that the global paper industry is valued at over $350 billion and projected to rise to $370 billion by 2029 on the back of rising population, educational requirements, sustainability goals, etc.
Had Nigeria sustained the development of the paper industry with the vigor that it approached it in the 1970s and 80s (see Nigeria’s paper history below), the situation where Nigeria spends trillions of naira annually to import more than 91% of her paper needs would be the reverse today, with added benefits such as retained jobs in the country.