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Insight & Analysis - September 13, 2022

5 Shocking Items Nigeria Still Imports

Nigeria spends more than $3.5 billion a year on food imports alone. The country is an import-dependent, indeed a dumping ground for all manner of industrial consumables from across the world. 

This is shown in many Nigerians’ preferences for items created abroad and not domestically in the country. 

Annually, Nigeria has a yearly trade balance of approximately $10 billion. An aggregate gotten after deducting total imports of $52 billion from its exports of $42.4 billion. Over the past seven years, the value of its exports has decreased by $45.6 billion, from $97.6 billion to $52 billion.

The President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mansur Ahmed, commented on the over-dependence on the imports of goods as “our manufacturing sector is weak” because of it. 

He adds that it is either the country scales up or down. Let’s take a look at some shocking items Nigeria still imports.


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1. Toothpicks

The cost of bringing toothpicks into Nigeria from China and Germany is estimated to be $15 million annually according to Nigeria’s Agric Minister. 

Despite being marked as a product that could be produced domestically a lot of money is still pumped consistently in the importation of this good.

Dino Melaye, a former senator who served as the 8th Assembly’s senator for Kogi West, lamented the fact that Nigeria primarily exports raw materials and imports completed goods made of the same materials.

“We export crude oil only to import refined products of crude oil, export cocoa only to import chocolate, we export timber and import furniture including toothpick… Etc.

2. Garri

Nigeria produces more than 45 million metric tonnes of cassava annually, making up more than 80% of global production, making it the leading producer overall. 

The World Bank, local research organisations, and the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, NBS, all claim that Nigeria is the world’s top exporter of the good.

However, several Nigerian shops have been found to be selling garri that has been imported from Togo, China, and India.

Commenting on the information about Nigeria importing garri, The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has said that Nigeria world’s largest producer of cassava and has no business purchasing garri from India.

3. Frozen chicken and turkey

Frozen chicken and turkey imports were prohibited by the federal government in 2003, but since then, the products have remained on the market in Nigeria.

Since most of imported frozen poultry meat products are harmful to our bodies and health, Mr. Ezekiel Mam, President of the Nigerian Poultry Association, has been pushing for a sustained and permanent ban on the importation of frozen poultry meat.

“When you are importing anything, it means you are taking your money outside and then creating unemployment, but by the time we use our local chicken, the multiplier effect is so great.

It enhances the purchasing power of the people because their income will increase,” he said.

4. Candles

Most of Nigeria’s candle imports come from China, India, and Indonesia. Nigeria is the leading import market for candles.

Nigeria’s candle sector is profitable and doesn’t require a lot of cash, but the nation still imports most of its candles.

According to the United Nations COMTRADE database on global trade, Nigeria imported candles, tapers, and similar items from Mexico for $6.7 thousand in 2020.

5. Paper

According to data from the United Nations COMTRADE database on global commerce, Nigeria imported items made of pulp, paper, and board worth $688.06 million in 2021.

Business owners in the pulp, paper products, printing, and publishing sectors in Nigeria have expressed worry about inadequate investment in the value chain of their industry.


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