Few decades ago, African countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, were listed in the list of world’s largest textile industries and currently the textile sector in the region is faced with several challenges. The representatives of the textile sector in the African region talks about the past and present of the industry in the continent.
In a conversation with fibre2fashion, Mr. JP Olarewaju, director general of Nigerian Textile and Garment and Tailoring Employers Association (NUTGTWN), said, “Until last decade, the Nigerian textile industry was the largest employer of workers in the organized private sector of the economy, only next to the Government.”
“The textile sector of Nigeria directly employed 250,000 – 300,000 people and was also a source of livelihood of backward and forward linkages as well as other supporting services. It was capable of producing over 1.5 billion linear meters of fabrics,” he mentions.
According to him, although the Nigerian textile industry is the largest in the Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa, it currently employs only 25,000 direct workers and produces less than 250 million meters of fabrics.
Mr. Anthony Mureithi, CEO of Cotton Development Authority (CODA) of Kenya, says, “The combined installed production capacity of woven fabric in the 1990s was 115 million square meters while garment manufacturing had a combined capacity of 141.1 million square meters which is equivalent to 85 percent of total national demand.”
“Currently, the local demand is estimated at 220 million sq. meters which is met through 80 percent importation and the imports are in the form of breached cotton yarn and threads, grey cotton, bleached cotton, cotton blankets and cotton piece goods,” he informs.
Mr. Mwangulumba Emanuel, principal cotton development board and promotion officer of Tanzania Cotton Board, says, “During 2005/2006 financial year, cotton was the first forex earner among agricultural commodities and in the interval of five years from 2005-2009 among the traditional cash crops, cotton generated the highest foreign earnings, averaging US$ 92.0 million per annum.
“Currently, over 75 percent of the cotton produced in Tanzania is exported raw as lint, providing employment to other countries’ textiles sector and this calls for urgent interventions to reverse the trend,” he adds.
However, Mr. Rajeev Arora, executive director of African Cotton & Textile Industries Federation, says, “The textile Industry in Africa highlights great opportunities. According to a 2011 report published by the International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF), Africa accounts for just about 2 percent of the global short staple spindles and 1 percent of the shuttle less looms.”
“There are openings for investors to participate in spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing and finishing process and it brings an opportunity for cotton, textile and apparel industry to develop in Africa,” he concludes.
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