The Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria (CIPPON) has lamented the rising cost of paper in Nigeria, warning that the situation could worsen unemployment in the country.
CIPPON is mandated to regulate the affairs of printers and related matters in Nigeria.
The President and Chairman-in-Council of the institute, Olugbemi Malomo, said the industry is being ‘monopolised’ in Nigeria by a few foreigners.
According to Malomo, paper is the biggest raw material and constitutes more than 50 per cent of any printing contract.
He said although the institute recognises that prices of commodities are increasing because of rising cost of foreign exchange, the about 300 per cent rise in the cost of paper far exceeds that of foreign exchange.
Malomo said foreigners have made the situation unbearable, citing an instance during the build-up of the 2019 general elections.
“It got so bad that everywhere an average Nigerian went to buy paper for importation into the country, they met a brick wall and were referred back home to the cartel who control the price of papers and sell at prices far above what obtains at the international market.
“Not only do these foreigners sell papers at higher rates, they also are competing with indigenous printers on the commercial side, taking their business, since most of them are unable to match their prices, thereby raising antitrust issues.
“The consequences of this is that members of the Institute are beginning to sell-off their equipment and lay-off staff almost on a daily basis, due to lack of jobs and the fact that they have to return LPO (local purchase order) of the jobs they got but cannot afford to execute due to rising cost of papers,” he said.
“Additionally, with the increasing costs in printing due to the progressively unending rise in paper costs, prices of books will go up, and ultimately put critical books and textbooks beyond the reach of students.”
He said if this trend continues, there will increased unemployment and could disrupt the country’s peace.
Malomo said the institute has been engaging the Ministry of Trade and Investments on the need for a lasting solution to scarcity of paper.
He noted that all of Nigeria’s three paper mills are moribund.
“The Institute has made some presentations to the government and suggested short and long-term solutions, which ought to be given consideration without delay.”
He said neighbouring countries like Ghana are already making efforts to start their own paper mills, which will extensively target the Nigerian market.
He urged the National Security Adviser to step into the matter to prevent “massive unemployment in the printing and graphic communication industry.”
This newspaper had reported how the country’s paper mills, Nigeria Paper Mill, Jebba, Kwara State, Iwopin Pulp and Paper Company (IPPC), Ogun State and Nigeria Newsprint Manufacturing Company (NNMC) in Oku-Iboku, Akwa Ibom, have remained moribund despite privatisation.
The government’s plan was for the three pulp and paper mills to provide tonnes of different papers every year starting from the 1970s.
However, by 2002, the three mills had stopped working.
In a bid to revive them, the government privatised the companies through the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), starting from the mid-2000s but till date, only the one in Jebba is functioning but at low capacity.
The others are yet to be revived despite promises from the government and major players in the industry, an investigation showed.