Kaduna was once the industrial heartland of Nigeria's textile industry, but a collapse in vital oil revenues has pushed the West African nation into its first recession in 25 years, causing many textile plants to close. Reuters photographer Afolabi Sotunde has photographed the derelict buildings that were once booming, highlighting just how much the industry has suffered.
Talba Goni has been trying without luck to get government funds or loans to restart a textile plant in Kaduna, the former industrial heartland in northern Nigeria, that he was running until it closed almost 15 years ago. Speaking to Sotunde, he explained that "we were not able to meet up with those conditions to access the funding ... the bureaucracy, you have to give this, you have to give that," he said. "There should be concessions, like the company income tax, a waiver for about 3-4 years."
Most importantly, Goni is unable to get enough petrol to power the plant's generators as the major oil producing country grapples with fuel shortages due to its derelict refineries. "We can't operate without black oil (petrol), it's very expensive and also very scarce," he told Reuters.
Goni said he had to fire 2,500 workers, joining an army of unemployed from which jihadist militant group Boko Haram are waging an insurgency in the northeast have been recruiting. "We are getting the people out of the woods," he told the news wire. "Once we are able to start the factory, we will solve a lot of this problem of unemployment."
The recession has made it difficult for the government to provide state loans or improve the erratic power supply that has led to closure of most plants. President Muhammadu Buhari hopes to revive the once flourishing textile and leather industries in northern Nigeria to end the country's dependence on oil exports and diversify Africa's biggest economy.
There have been some limited Chinese investments in recent years into what is left of Nigeria's leather and textile industry, but most plants have remained closed since throwing in the towel in the 1980s and 1990s.