How we lost billions of naira worth of investment in Nigeria’s textile industry – Aliko Dangote 

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has recounted the challenges his venture faced in Nigeria’s textile industry during the boom o, resulting in his company losing billions of naira in investment. 

Dangote shared his experience during his keynote speech at the 2024  Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN)  summit in Abuja. 

The Chairman of Dangote Group stated that his company invested billions of naira in the textile industry following the boom of the 1960s.  

However, the lack of government protection through policy decisions led to the shutdown of the two factories. 

Dangote mentioned that he had to sell his bank, Liberty Merchant Bank, for N1.2 billion to pay off the pensions and gratuities of the workers in Nigeria’s textile mill. 

“When textile businesses were booming, we went and set up our own textile mills in Kano called Dangote General Textile Mills. Then we massively invested billions at that time.  

“We also went and bought the foreign shareholder of Nigeria Textile Mill which was a textile mill set up for the Western Region by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. That was 1960. At the end of the day, there was no government protection. We had to shut both the two factories.  

“In fact, we had to delay. The biggest challenge we had was with the Nigeria Textile mill because most of their workers have worked there for 25 to 30 years, so paying their pension and gratuity was difficult for us.  

“Luckily for us, somebody now came and said he wanted to buy our bank, Liberty Merchant Bank. By the time we sold Liberty, I cashed out N1.2 billion. After cashing out N1.2 billion, the industry consumed N985 million to pay pensions and gratuities just to get out of the business. That is how we now got out of the business. We burnt our fingers,” Dangote said.  

Interestingly, Dangote said Former President Obasanjo later advised him to invest in the textile industry, but due to his former experience, he had to turn down the offer.  

“Even when Obasanjo asked us to come back and invest in textile, I told him no, thank you,” the business mogul added. 

What you should know  

Nigeria’s textile industry continues to struggle despite the country’s huge market potential for cotton production. 

In the 1970s, Nigeria happened to be an industrial hub for textile production, boasting about 180 textile mills, and employing more than one million Nigerians. 

Among these were United Nigerian Textile Limited, Aswani Textile, Afprint, Asaba Textile Mills, and Edo Textile Mills, among others. 

Latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that textiles contributed a negative 1.75% to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2024, making it one of the underperforming industries in Nigeria. 

Recently, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite, said the country sealed a $3.5 billion deal with Afreximbank bank to help revive the moribund industry, among others.  


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