The plan that aims at producing
“garments manufactured in Africa” will see the value chain from the
cotton seed to finished garments broken into stages and each assigned
to different countries with a comparative advantage”div class=”text”>
.The new strategy by the Africa Cotton & Textile Industries
Federation (ACTIF) is a departure from the current scenario where
African countries have largely exported cotton to other continents for
processing into clothes .
.”We are only good at providing raw material without adding value. We
should capture the entire value chain from the cotton seed to the
shirt,” ACTIF chairman Jaswinder Bedi said .
.Africa grows 12 per cent of the cotton in the world, out of which 95 per cent is exported in that form .
.Players in the industry are looking into strategies of setting up
factories in strategic parts of the continent to use up the tonnes of
cotton grown in Africa to produce fabrics in huge volumes for the
regional markets .
.ACTIF programme manager Fred Kong’ong’o said the initiative dubbed
“Brand Africa” hopes to take advantage of the East African Community
Common Market and efforts towards regional integration .
.He added that the manufactured garments would be promoted as
products of an eco-friendly process from the farm to the time they
leave the factory as clothing .
.However, this plan faces stiff competition from secondhand clothes
and imports that are preferred to the locally manufactured clothes .
.The situation is further complicated by the high cost of
manufacturing in parts of the region. Industry players want the
government to create demand for locally manufactured garments .
.Already, the government has indicated that it intends to buy
uniforms for hospitals, the disciplined forces and other large users
from local manufacturers .
.Recently, Prime Minister Raila Odinga announced plans to roll out a
stimulus package for the textile industry, besides implementing
recommendations of a study conducted in 2005 for the industry’s revival .
.About 41 textile factories have collapsed over the years, rendering about 400,000 people who worked there unemployed .
.Mr Bedi said that it might prove necessary to establish a textile
upgrading fund since the collapsed firms do not have up to date
technology .
.This would see the factories receive soft loans to upgrade their
machinery. Similar initiatives have been applied successfully in India
and Nigeria .
.”If we want to industrialise, we need to start with the cotton and textile industry because it is labour intensive,” he said .
.Mr Kong’ong’o argued that the Kenyan textile industry did not
collapse due to lack of markets but rather mismanagement of the
production process .
.ACTIF intends to stage a workshop for fashion designers that will
culminate in fashion shows in Nairobi this month as part of its launch
in an effort to brand locally manufactured merchandise .
.It is meant to showcase garments made in Africa besides fostering
closer collaboration between fashion designers and garment
manufacturers .
.The event’s concept paper indicates that it aims at tapping into the
potential of various African cultures and production of organic cotton
products.It adds that similar strategies where fashion designers have
been used to boost textile and apparel business has been successfully
used in China, Turkey, India, South Africa and Mauritius .
.According to ACTIF the high cost of power in Kenya has seen
factories relocate to other countries in the region with lower costs.
While Kenya levies US$0.24 per unit of power, it costs US$0.12 in
Tanzania, US$0.04 in Egypt and US$0.03 in Ethiopia .”