Interview with Mr Kassaye Mekuria

Mr Kassaye Mekuria
Mr Kassaye Mekuria
Ethiopian Textile and Garment Manufacturers' Association (ETGAMA)
Ethiopian Textile and Garment Manufacturers' Association (ETGAMA)

Timely delivery is another challenge that industry confronts.
Ethiopian Textile and Garment Manufacturers' Association is a national sectoral association of the Ethiopian Textile and Garment Industry. Re-established in 2003, ETGAMA represents the interest of its members in different forms. Members' capacity building, market linkage formation, information supply and advocating policy-related affairs are the main areas of its engagement. In close cooperation with the Government and development partners, ETGAMA works on capacitating the individual member factories and networking them in view of improved bargaining power in the competitive market of the industry. Mr Kassaye Mekuria is the president of ETGAMA. He did his BSc in Electrical Engineering from HaileSelasse University in 1970. Mr Mekuria has worked as Transmission Engineer in Telecommunications, Technical Manager in Addis Tyre Manufacturing Plant and Power Engineering Sales Engineer for Siemens Ethiopia. Since 1984 Mr Mekuria joined the private sector and got self employed. He worked as electrical engineering sub contractor then. He established the first outsourcing company in Ethiopia in 1993, named Siltun Balemuya PLC that employs over two thousand employees. The company is into the service sector. At present there are over hundred such companies doing the job. In 2006 Mr Mekuria bought Nazareth Garment factory from the Government and is successfully running the business for the last five years. Manufacturing business is Mr Mekuria’s passion. He has also established other establishments in dairy farm and construction material production, all are operating successfully. Employment and creating job opportunities is his area of interest and something that he takes pleasure in. In total, he has helped over three thousand employees get their livelihood through these establishments. His profession has given him opportunities to visit several countries like USA, Europe, Asia and Africa including India. Mr Kassaye Mekuria in his candid expressions addressing the interview by Ms Madhu Soni, Sr Editor & Correspondent- Face2Face, highlights the current movements in Ethiopian textile and garment industry, and ETGAMA’s role in its well-faring.

Welcome to Face2Face Mr Mekuria. The textile industry is the largest in manufacturing segment in Ethiopia. As a torchbearer and voice of industry’s local players, how would you assign your association’s role in it?

Indeed the association is a very important organ of the members to voice their demands and at the same time be a pivotal point for the entire sector’s performances data collections. However to make fruitful results it needs the effort of all members and office bearers to sacrifice their busy hour consistently to the activities of the association. I think there is a lot to do for industry. The association being young has to look further for better performance to alleviate the various problems encountered by the sector.

Now, talking Cotton - the strength of the sector in Ethiopia; how is this market faring?

Yes, this is an important sector. In fact Ethiopia has about 2.3 million hectares of land good for cotton cultivation. Only about 3% of this is cultivated at the moment. Thus the chance for the expansion of the cotton plantation is a potential advantage for the sector. Presently the cotton shortage is at its highest and the cotton price is sky rocketing. The cotton produced domestically is not enough for the local textile factories. This is another bottle neck for the textile factories to run at full capacity.

In last five-year plans, the Ethiopian Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) had targeted textile sector to have yearly revenue of approximately USD 500 million by 2011 and to bring in 190 enterprises that can make the capital investment of around USD 1.6 billion. How far do you think these plans have been met?

I am afraid that the plan and the performance had not matched because of several reasons. The plan to export has not been fulfilled because the export market demands high quality performance in respect to productivity, quality and delivery. In all these three points the sector is not yet competitive enough to achieve the goal. Productivity and quality are achieved through continuous operation and needs time to attain it. Timely delivery is another challenge that industry confronts as it involves several operators who at times fail to respond to the international time level. Paper work in the Customs, transit offices, container searches, inland haulage and days spent in the port are factors that makes the delivery times a difficult factor. Moreover, all this factors cumulatively make the export business very much problematic and end up in loss. The whole chain of activities does not make the factories beneficial and the driving force of attaining positive figures are missing whereby motivation of the working force is missing that ends up in low performance. The majority of the export was supposed to come from the garment side and this sector did not operate well as a result of points discussed above. It is also a point that the buyers do not know much Ethiopia and its textile business. Now it is better than the past days.
Published on: 16/08/2011

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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