Ethiopia aims to become largest production hub in Africa


The fourth edition of Africa Sourcing and Fashion Week (ASFW), Africa’s leading exhibition and conference, will open doors from 1-4 October 2018 to the entire cotton, textiles, apparel, home décor and technology industry.

A few years ago, the Ethiopian government set ambitious goals for the textiles and garment industry with production, productivity and export performance of the industry set to be further increased. Currently, the textiles and apparel sector in Ethiopia employs 47,000 people. According to government plans, the number of skilled labour will increase to 350,000 within the next five years in 12 industrial parks.

The Ethiopian government has declared economic initiatives through opening state-owned companies to foreign investors or shareholders. This is expected to help the country in professionalisation of the state-owned companies and bring in foreign currency. This initiative and the recent peace process with the neighbouring country Eritrea has brought positive echo from various organisations, including the UN, IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) and Africa Union.

Future plans

Ethiopia plans to establish itself as a new centre for the international textiles industry. For 2018, the government expects an export volume of US$ 1 billion. According to the plans of the Ethiopian government, by 2025 the country should reach a “middle-income status” and become the largest production hub in Africa.

In addition, a lot of investments for the infrastructure are already made and are still planned. Tax advantages and cheap loans should attract investors. Europe and the US are supporting trade with favourable customs conditions and infrastructure projects. Investors benefit from low wages and energy costs. ASFW’s conference takes up the topic of investment by a panel presented by the government of Ethiopia.

Emerging production hub

The textile and apparel sector in Ethiopia is centred around spinning, weaving, knitting, and finishing. Major brands are now beginning to source from Ethiopia. Such interest is believed to stem from rising wages in China, labour unrest and violence in Cambodia, and ineffective compliance with rules and regulations in various countries in South Asia. Also, the governments in Ethiopia have been making efforts to create favourable conditions in order to attract investors.

Fasil Tadesse, President of the Ethiopian Textile and Garment Manufacturers Association (ETGMA) and CEO of MAA Garment & Textile Factory, based in Mekele in northern Ethiopia, said the Ethiopian government has helped develop the knitwear sector through its development and expansion strategy.

The increases in investment and sourcing from the country are reflected in employment and export figures. In Ethiopia, several major foreign companies have invested in the textile and clothing industry and a number of high profile brand names have started sourcing apparel from the country. In 2014, H&M began purchasing textiles and garments from Ethiopia, sourcing knitwear from the MAA Garment & Textile Factory. UK retailers Tesco, George and Primark also began sourcing from Ethiopia earlier that year.

Ethiopia has also been a point of interest for German machine manufacturers like Karl Mayer, Terrot, Mayer & Cie., and Groz-Beckert looking to explore the potential market in recent years.

Show highlights

At ASFW, over 250 international manufacturers and exporters from 25 countries will showcase their products and innovations to over 4,000 trade professionals and sourcing industry from around the world. The show in 2017 has already grown more than 30% in exhibitor and more than 5% in visitor numbers. ASFW 2018 is not only a platform for manufacturers from the East African region but for manufacturers from the entire African continent.

For the first time at ASFW, over 12 new South African manufacturers of leather products will present their expertise and products to international fashion brands and buyers. Launched at ASFW in 2017 the unique Walk for Business project will connect more than 25 high-end African designers from South, West and East Africa with international buyers and fashion brands for future collaboration.

Known as Africa´s only trade show for technology, ASFW offers a huge platform for famous machines for production of clothing, textiles as well as dyeing and finishing incl. suppliers of chemicals. ASFW consists of textile, apparel, technology, leather, footwear and home décor and fashion design. Textile, apparel and technology will be presented though Texworld Addis Abeba, Apparel Sourcing Addis Abeba and Texprocess Addis Abeba.

Categories: Africa, Apparel, Business, China, Ethiopia, Technology, Textile

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