Is Nigeria aware of the fact that by 2027 the global tissue paper industry will be worth at least $94bn and with this pandemic we have the opportunity to create a dominant market presence

Ayo Akinfe

[1] Over the last year-and-a-half, the surge in the demand for tissue paper, kitchen roll, wipes and napkins has been dramatic worldwide as the coronavirus surge spreads. Across the world, departmental stores, retail chains and supermarkets are having to deal with panic buying, leaving their shelves bare

[2] Worldwide, the printed tissue paper market size was valued at a mere $657.4m in 2018 but coronavirus has expanded the market dramatically

[3] Now, let me crack you up. Do you know that Nigeria spends N50bn ($135m) importing tissue products annually? Our shamelessness is beyond embarrassing

[4] Can someone please explain to me why we cannot turn say Sambisa Forest, Mambilla Plateau or the Idanre Forest into one huge facility where we just plant millions of trees for tissue paper production? Surely one of these governors must have thought about it

[5] We import tissue products despite the fact that we have the Nigeria Paper Mill Jebba, Nigerian Newsprint Manufacturing Company, Oku-Iboku and Nigerian National Paper Manufacturing Company in Iwopin virtually sitting idle

[6] Although these plants were primarily set up to produce newsprint, they are modular and can easily be switched to produce tissue paper. Bear in mind Nigeria is also the open defecation capital of the world

[7] Since 1999, we have tried to privatise all three mills but alas, the process has simply not worked. Nigeria is one economy where an industry immediately collapses when you privatise it. As you know, this has been seen with other sectors including Ajaokuta, Nepa, NNSL, etc. Cronyism and the lack of a vibrant domestic bourgeoisie means these industries do not end up in the hands of industrialists

[8] According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation, Nigeria has over 9m hectares of forest. Can someone please explain to me how such a nation is not a major forestry products exporter?

[9] Under the current circumstances, I think what our trade and industry minister should be doing is speaking to major retail chains worldwide, asking them to come and take over these Nigerian paper factories and establish a global supply chain

[10] Have we considered how much we could generate from the export of tissue paper if we asked the likes of Walmart, Sainsbury, Tesco, etc to take over our paper mills? Can someone please explain to me why we should not build a $20bn industry and make Nigeria the world's largest tissue paper supplier?