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Can West Africa Lead the Way in Creating a More Sustainable Textiles Industry?

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Textile - Investors King

With textiles and fashion expected to constitute an important post-Covid-19 growth driver for West Africa, stakeholders and key players in the industry are exploring ways to implement sustainable practices and make the sector more environmentally friendly.

While one might not instinctively include it among the world’s heaviest polluters, the textile and fashion industry is a key contributor to climate change, accounting for around 10% of global carbon emissions.

Indeed, with pre-pandemic annual emissions of 1.2bn tonnes, the industry is the second-largest industrial polluter behind the oil and gas industry, surpassing emissions from all international flights and maritime shipping put together.

A major factor behind the industry’s carbon footprint is the water needed for cotton production. For example, it can take an estimated 20,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of cotton, or one t-shirt and a pair of jeans.

In addition, with up to 8000 chemicals used to turn raw materials into clothes, the World Bank estimates that 20% of global industrial water pollution comes from dyeing and finishing fabrics.

Another major factor behind the environmental footprint of the industry is the sheer mass of clothes produced to meet the needs of modern “fast fashion”. An estimated $500bn in value is lost every year from clothes that are worn for a short period of time and not recycled, with much of it ending up incinerated or in landfill.

Pushing for environmental sustainability

To combat the environmental impact of the textiles and fashion industry, a number of industry players are turning towards more sustainable means of operation.

For example, Jendaya, a UK-based, Africa-focused online fashion retailer avoids plastic and ships goods in recyclable cardboard packaging.

The company is also one of a growing number supportinggin cott designers who produce clothes in smaller capacities on a made-to-order basis, reducing waste and the amount of clothing that is consigned to landfill.

Other examples of African companies promoting local production using natural materials under made-to-order models include Nehanda & Co in Zimbabwe, Naked Ape in South Africa, Nkwo in Nigeria and Awa Meité in Mali.

There are also efforts to support this approach on an institutional level. Fashionomics Africa, an initiative developed by the African Development Bank, aims to develop a sustainable textile value chain and help create business models that will keep garments in use, make use of renewable materials and recycle old clothes into new products.

Another company driving sustainable solutions across the entire value chain in West Africa’s textiles industry is the India-headquartered Arise.

On top of existing industrial projects in Gabon, Mauritania and Côte d’Ivoire, the company is in the process of constructing two textiles parks in Togo and Benin. The sites, which source raw materials, gin cotton, and process and manufacture final products, will emphasise environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors across all aspects of the operation.

For example, some of the sustainability credentials of the textile park in Togo include processing 100% sustainably sourced cotton, under Cotton Made in Africa standards, and using 100% renewable electricity, offsetting 20 tonnes of carbon emissions per day. The site will also reuse 90-95% of the water used during processing and comply with independent international certifications when it comes to dyeing and finishing fabrics.

“The private sector needs to implement socially conscientious governance models across the textile value chain, enfranchising local communities through fair and equitable labour practices while also managing ecological resources sustainably,” Bhavin Vyas, chief ESG officer at Arise, told OBG.

Economic benefits

The benefits of such an approach are not just environmental. Increasing textile production on the continent will also provide an economic boon to the region as countries continue their recoveries from Covid-19.

Indeed, in April the African Circular Economy Alliance, a government-led coalition that promotes environmentally and socially sustainable solutions for economic development, identified the textiles and fashion industry as one of the “Five Big Bets” – alongside food systems, the built environment, electronics and packaging – that could drive the continent’s sustainable development in the future.

The issue is particularly pertinent to West Africa. Around three-quarters of the continent’s cotton is produced in the region; however, most of this is shipped to South and East Asia for processing, meaning that West African countries miss out on much of the value-added economic benefits traditionally associated with the textile industry.

Every year leading West African cotton-producing nations Benin, Burkina-Faso and Mali export 1.8m tonnes of unprocessed cotton worth $922m, but then import $2.4bn in finished cotton textiles and apparels.

In an effort to address the situation, Arise’s textile park in Togo aims to convert 56,000 tonnes of cotton fibres valued at $73m into apparel worth $1.5bn. The company says the construction and running of the site will create 20,000 direct and 80,000 indirect jobs, ensuring that much of the profit will filter into local communities.

Meanwhile, in Benin, where the cotton industry accounts for 12% of GDP and 60% of industrial earnings, the government is playing an active role in promoting domestic production, implementing a ban on 30% of cotton lint exports by the end of 2021, with this figure rising to 70% by 2022 and 100% by 2023.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Peter Obi Advocates for Full Government Backing of Dangote’s $21bn Refinery Project

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Peter G. Obi

Peter Obi, a prominent Nigerian politician and public figure, has called for unwavering support for the Dangote Refinery amid recent conflicts between Dangote Industries and government agencies.

In a passionate appeal, Obi said the current disputes extend beyond political and personal differences, touching upon the broader interests of Nigeria’s economy and its future prosperity.

In his statement on X.com, Obi highlighted the refinery’s immense potential to drive economic growth and create employment opportunities.

With an estimated annual revenue potential of approximately $21 billion and the capacity to generate over 100,000 jobs, the Dangote Refinery represents a cornerstone of Nigeria’s industrial advancement and economic stabilization.

“The recent challenges faced by Dangote Industries should not overshadow the vital role this enterprise plays in our national economy,” Obi asserted.

“Alhaji Dangote’s contributions are monumental, and it is essential that we rally behind his ventures, particularly the refinery, which is set to make a significant impact on our fuel crisis and foreign exchange earnings.”

The refinery, with its strategic importance, stands as a beacon of hope for Nigeria’s fuel supply and overall economic development.

It is poised to address long-standing issues in the energy sector, provide substantial revenue streams, and enhance the country’s economic resilience. Given these benefits, Obi stressed that any actions hindering the refinery’s operation would be counterproductive.

Obi also commended Alhaji Dangote for his remarkable achievements across various sectors, including cement, sugar, salt, fertilizer, infrastructure, and more.

“Alhaji Dangote embodies patriotism and commitment to Nigeria’s growth. His extensive industrial activities are not only a testament to his entrepreneurial spirit but also a vital contribution to Nigeria’s economic landscape,” he added.

Despite the challenging business environment, Dangote’s diversified industrial investments demonstrate a commitment to Nigeria’s industrialization and job creation.

Obi urged the Federal Government and its agencies to offer full support to Dangote Industries, recognizing the broader economic benefits and the positive impact on national welfare.

“The success of Dangote Industries is intrinsically linked to the success of Nigeria and Africa as a whole. We cannot afford to let such a crucial enterprise falter,” Obi warned. “Every sensible and patriotic government should view enterprises like Dangote Industries as national treasures that deserve robust support and protection.”

Obi’s appeal underscores the critical need for collaboration between the government and private sector leaders to ensure the successful operation of key projects like the Dangote Refinery.

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Dangote Accuses NNPC and Oil Traders of Secret Operations in Malta

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Aliko Dangote, chairman of Dangote Industries Limited, has leveled serious allegations against personnel from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited and certain oil traders.

Speaking at a session with the House of Representatives, Dangote claimed that these parties have established a blending plant in Malta, raising concerns about the integrity of Nigeria’s fuel supply.

Dangote described the blending plant as lacking refining capability, instead focusing on mixing re-refined oil with additives to produce lubricants.

“Some of the terminals, some of the NNPC people, and some traders have opened a blending plant somewhere off Malta,” he stated.

He emphasized that these activities are well-known within industry circles.

Addressing the drop in diesel prices, Dangote argued that locally produced diesel, with sulfur content levels of 650 to 700 parts per million (ppm), is superior to imported variants.

He linked numerous vehicle issues to what he described as “substandard” imported fuel.

He called for the House of Representatives to set up an independent committee to investigate fuel quality at filling stations.

“I urge you to take samples from filling stations and compare them with our production line to inform Nigerians accurately,” Dangote insisted.

The accusations come amid an ongoing dispute between the Dangote Refinery and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).

Farouk Ahmed, NMDPRA’s chief executive, had previously claimed that local refineries, including Dangote’s, were producing inferior products compared to imports.

Also, the House of Representatives has initiated a probe into allegations that international oil companies are undermining the Dangote Refinery’s operations.

In response to the escalating tensions, Heineken Lokpobiri, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, intervened by meeting with key stakeholders including Dangote, Ahmed, and other top officials from the Nigerian petroleum regulatory bodies.

The discussions aimed to address claims of monopoly against Dangote, which he has strongly denied, and to ensure that all parties operate transparently and fairly.

This development highlights the complex dynamics within Nigeria’s oil industry. The allegations and subsequent investigations could impact market stability and investor confidence.

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Africa’s Richest Man, Aliko Dangote Ready to Sell Refinery to Nigerian Government

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Dangote refinery

Aliko Dangote, Africa’s wealthiest entrepreneur, has announced his willingness to sell his multibillion-dollar oil refinery to Nigeria’s state-owned energy company, NNPC Limited.

This decision comes amid a growing dispute with key partners and regulatory authorities.

The $19 billion refinery, which began operations last year, is a significant development for Nigeria, aiming to reduce the country’s reliance on imported fuel.

However, challenges in sourcing crude and ongoing disputes have hindered its full potential.

Dangote expressed frustration over allegations of monopolistic practices, stating that these accusations are unfounded.

“If they want to label me a monopolist, I am ready to let NNPC take over. It’s in the best interest of the country,” he said in a recent interview.

The refinery has faced difficulties with supply agreements, particularly with international crude producers demanding high premiums.

NNPC, initially a supportive partner, has delivered only a fraction of the crude needed since last year. This has forced Dangote to seek alternative suppliers from countries like Brazil and the US.

Despite the challenges, Dangote remains committed to contributing to Nigeria’s economy. “I’ve always believed in investing at home.

This refinery can resolve our fuel crisis,” he stated, urging other wealthy Nigerians to invest domestically rather than abroad.

Recently, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority accused Dangote’s refinery of producing substandard diesel.

In response, Dangote invited regulators and lawmakers to verify the quality of his products, which he claims surpass imported alternatives in purity.

Amidst these challenges, Dangote has halted plans to enter Nigeria’s steel industry, citing concerns over monopoly accusations.

“We need to focus on what’s best for the economy,” he explained, emphasizing the importance of fair competition and innovation.

As Nigeria navigates these complex issues, the potential sale of Dangote’s refinery to NNPC could reshape the nation’s energy landscape and secure its energy independence.

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