In the last twenty years, more than a million Nigerian textileand apparel workers have lost their jobs due to counterfeited products. The prevalence of counterfeiting has forced many textile factories to close, leaving the whole industry in danger and posing a potential danger to the economy and its position as a new frontier economy. Industry experts estimate that 40 percent of all goods in Nigeria are either substandard or counterfeit.
“Over a million Nigerian jobs in the textile industry have been lost since 2000 to counterfeiting, which has led to closure of many textile units and those that survived are in a comatose state. Other than this, counterfeiting also had microeconomic effects which impacts sales volumes, prices, costs of rights holders, new investment, royalties and brand value,” explained Joseph Odumodu, director general of Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) at the recent Hewlett-Packard Anti-Counterfeiting Conference in Abuja.
Odumodu also blames competition through textiles and apparel from other countries, mainly Asia, for Nigeria’s loss. “There was a time the textile industry was very strong. Suddenly, the country opened its borders and allowed substandard textile materials to flood the country from Asia and all other places. The immediate impact was that the local textile industry could not cope with the pressure from competition. Consequently, most of them had to close down”, Odumodu said in an interview with the Premium Times. He also points to the health issues for the users of textiles and wearers of apparel that were printed with chemicals containing heavy metals like lead or zinc.
Odumodu holds the “weak regulatory and legal framework” responsible for the “devastating impact” of counterfeiting , along with a high level of corruption in the country and the ignorance of consumers about this issue. He proposes severe penalties for manufacturing and distributing substandard and counterfeit product, which should be considered an economic crime.