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How Nike rejection birthed sportswear industry in Nigeria

To Udezue, sport is more about creating opportunities than just winning trophies.



How Nike rejection birthed sportswear industry in Nigeria

For many years, Nigerian sports had to depend on foreign brands for all kinds of sporting and leisure wears. In doing this, Nigeria was also ceding to these countries the opportunities that came with the business of sports. None of these changed, until Africa for Africa (AFA) Sports started out in Nigeria years ago.

Recently on Nairametrics Business Half Hour show, Founder of Africa for Africa (AFA) Sports talked about how Nike’s rejection became the birth of an industry in Nigeria.

Ugo Udezue had come to Nigeria to establish the Continental Basketball League, (CBL) after spending 17 years with BDA Sports management in California. At this time, he saw sports as being “more about creating opportunities than just winning trophies”.

READ MORE: How the United States plans to control the African Development Bank

What he saw was the prospects of creating a whole economy built around the game – alternate relaxation options for workers who had spent long hours at work, and better opportunities for people to trade their wares and entertain guests during the games.

A major kitting challenge came up for the CBL, as most of the foreign brands did not seem to cater for the African climate. The kits and balls being used had been designed by foreign brands using their weather condition and environment as the guiding factor. Because of this, they could not cater to the needs of the Nigerian basketball players.

“The balls were not designed to absorb sweat and so the players kept dropping the balls. Even the jerseys and shoes had clearly not been designed for the African weather since we did not play the game in air-conditioned courts,” he explained.

READ MORE: Is sports betting gradually making Nigerian youths lazy?

When Udezue reached out to Nike to seek Apparel sponsorship for the CBL, he received the shocking news that “Africa was not in their plans at the time”.

This rejection, though a short term challenge, became the inspiration behind founding AFA Sports, done by Africans to cater to the sporting needs of Africans.

As you may well know, there were foreign companies sponsoring Nigerian teams at the time, making jerseys and other apparel. But because they were not producing these things locally, they were depriving the country of the opportunities and benefits which should have come with such ventures.

Gradually, Udezue and his team moved from the initial years of chaos and unprofitability, to growing AFA Sports into the biggest performing sports brand in Africa. The company’s products are now shipped to different countries.

In a couple of years, the dream started to materialise when AFA sports became the official apparel sponsor of the Nigerian National Basketball team D’Tigers during the Afro Basket 2017 competition. It was a major game-changer for sporting in Africa.

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READ ALSO: Kobe Bryant: What Nigerian athletes, business owners must learn


An industry waiting to explode

Manufacturing in Nigeria is often thought of along the lines or agricultural and industrial products, without much attention on the sporting and leisure industry. From jerseys to tracksuits, leisure wears, boots, balls, caps and others, there is a whole economy waiting to be explored.

“I saw sports as a way to create wealth. I realised that it was an opportunity to create jobs for Nigerians while meeting the need for football clothing, and for as long we keep sourcing these materials from the foreign brands, we will miss out on ways we could have used it to empower our economy,” Udezue said.

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With these items produced locally at the factories and even exported to other countries, jobs are created for Nigerians. AFA sports, for instance, has three factories in Lagos state where it employs people to carry out its productions of sports and leisure wears.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Shutdown of sports is crippling the world economy – Oma Akatugba

Beyond saving Nigeria the cost implications of importing such products, the products are now being exported to other African countries bringing in some foreign exchange for Nigeria.

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As Nigeria moves towards self-sufficiency, there is the need to pay attention to the sports economy and its attendant benefits. Much more than sponsorships, hosting games in local economy can turn the fortunes of small business owners in the locality, given them a wider market and increased income.

Ruth Okwumbu has a MSc. and BSc. in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Delta state university respectively. Prior to her role as analyst at Nairametrics, she had a progressive six year writing career.As a Business Analyst with Narametrics, she focuses on profiles of top business executives, founders, startups and the drama surrounding their successes and challenges. You may contact her via [email protected]

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Spotlight Stories

Sell-offs resume in Nigerian stock market, catalyzed by Ecobank, Fidson

Investor sentiment as measured by market breadth was negative with 24 decliners and 14 advancers.



Nigerian Breweries brings the Bears to party, Investors down N20.5 billion 

Nigerian bourse ended the fourth trading session on a negative note. Nigeria’s All-share index depreciated by 0.31% today to 40,095.49 index points.

Year-to-date return and market capitalization settled at -0.43% and N20.97 trillion respectively.

  • A total volume of 326.0 million units of shares, valued at N3.7 1billion exchanged hands in 4,567 deals.
  • Across coverage sectors, the performance was mostly negative as most tracked indices finished south. The NSE banking, consumer goods, and oil & gas fell by 1.44%, 0.79%, and 0.15% respectively.
  • On the flip side, the NSE insurance improved by 0.24%, while the industrial index closed flat.
  • Investor sentiment as measured by market breadth was negative with 24 decliners and 14 advancers. LASACO (-9.68%) led the laggards today, while CHAMS (+9.09%) finished top gainer.

Top gainers

  1. CHAMS up 9.09% to close at N0.24
  2. ROYALEX up 8.00% to close at N0.27
  3. WEMABANK up 7.69% to close at N0.7
  4. REDSTAREX up 5.77% to close at N3.3
  5. PRESTIGE up 4.55% to close at N0.46

Top losers

  1. LASACO down 9.68% to close at N1.24
  2. FIDSON down 8.41% to close at N4.9
  3. ETI down 6.31% to close at N5.2
  4. MBENEFIT down 5.13% to close at N0.37
  5. UACN down 5.03% to close at N7.55


Nigerian stocks ended the second trading session of the week on a bearish note amid profit-taking across the market spectrum.

  • Downtrend was driven by price depreciation medium and large capitalized stocks amongst which are; ETI, FIDSON, UACN.
  • That being said, Nairametrics envisages cautious buying on the account that certain market indicators reveal investors are taking some of their gains across the market spectrum.

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Funds Management

Nigeria’s pension asset under management hits N12.3trillion in December 2020

Nigeria’s pension asset under management hits N12.3trillion in December 2020.



PenCom, unremitted pensions, Lagos State Pension Commission, LASPEC, Pension Fund Assets, PFAs make N1.69 trillion ROI  

Nigeria’s pension asset under management, as of December 2020, stands at N12.3trillion which represents a modest growth of 20% year-on-year and 0.003% month-on-month (no significant change), according to the monthly report by National Pension Commission (Pencom).

According to the report, total RSA funds increased by 20% year-on-year while the funds under both existing schemes and Closed Pension Fund Administrator (CPFA) as well, grew by 21% year-on-year.

Other Key highlights

  • As of December 2019, investments in FGN Securities accounted for 72% of the total pensions assets fund, out of which 73% was invested in Bonds and 26% in Treasury Bills.
  • As of December 2020, investments in FGN Securities accounted for 66% of the total pensions assets fund, out of which 84% was invested in Bonds and a paltry 8% in Treasury Bills, which is not unrelated to the subsisting very low yield of TB in the money market.
  • The investments in FG Bonds represent 56% of the total pension assets fund under management. The renewed and increased investments in FG Bonds can be attributed to the attractiveness of the yields of FG bonds over the Treasury Bills.
  • RSA Fund II and III accounted for 89% of the total RSA funds and 69% of the total pension assets under management as of December 2020, while others – Funds I, IV and V accounted for 31%
  • All the RSA funds, including existing scheme and CPFA recorded year-on-year growth as follows: Existing scheme (13%), CPFA(28%), Fund I (49%), Fund II(19%), Fund III(21%), Fund IV(18%).
  • As of December 2020, only N80.54million was invested under the newest RSA fund (Fund V) – specifically created for micro pensions.

What you should know

There are 4 pension fund types, with the newest recently introduced for the micro pension scheme.

The Multi-Fund structure is a framework that aims to align the age and risk profile of RSA holders, as follows:

  • Fund I – This is an optional fund. Contributors must write formally to opt for this Fund.
  • Fund II – This is the default fund for contributors aged 49 and below.
  • Fund III – This is the default fund for contributors aged 50 and above.
  • Fund IV – This is the Retiree Fund.

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