By OLAKUNLE OLAFIOYE
SOMOLU in Somolu Local Government Area of Lagos State is unarguably the hub of commercial printing in Nigeria with thousands of commercial printing presses both small and medium scales doting the length and breadth of this bustling business community. Although her position in Africa and indeed the world as one of the leading enclaves of printing business remains a subject of debate, not a few stakeholders in the Nigerian printing industry are of the opinion that Somolu commands a respectable position in league of leading printing communities not only in Africa but also in the world.
One of the leading voices in printing business in Somolu, Pastor Sam Odimayo of Alpha Press Limited said the question over Shomolu’s position among leading printing communities in the world could be viewed from two perspectives of conglomeration of printing presses and the volume of printed materials churned out at a given period.” If you look at the concentration of people involved in printing activities per area, Somolu may emerge as the community with largest concentration of printers in the world. But if you consider it from the angle of the volume of printing materials produced, what the entire printers in Somolu produce, let’s say in a year, can be done by one major press in other parts of the world in a few weeks,” Odimayo revealed.
Mushin in Lagos, Printers’ Village, Jamal Road in Kaduna and Surulere also in Lagos are rated in this order next to Somolu in terms of concentration of printers. Chicago and New York both in the United States of America, Shanghai in China and Johannesburg in South Africa also command respectable mention among leading printing communities in the world.
Unlike Chicago whose emergence in the late nineteenth century as a center for commercial printing in the United States was predicated on its proximity to rail transportation, the primary means of conveying bulky printed products, Somolu has no such historical positioning linking it to printing business. Findings by Sunday Sun however revealed that pioneer local Nigerian printers in Somolu were Ijebus whose presence continued to attract printers or people interested in acquiring skills in printing business. “Gradually, Somolu became a destination for commercial printing. People began to come here for printing, printers continued to increase due to the growing advantages of concentration of all categories of professionals in the printing industry,” Odimaya revealed.
Printing business is indeed transforming Somolu from a residential community to a business hub. From Shipeolu Street to Akeju, Fola Agoro to Bajulaiye, the ubiquitous printing equipment continues to question the facade of Somolu as a residential area.