African textile sector pins hope on govt policies

August 20, 2013 - Nigeria

The textile sector in Africa is one of the ancient textile industries in the world with highly skilled workers but the industry lost its pride due to several reasons and currently it is faced with several challenges. The textile and apparel manufacturers in Kenya and Nigeria are pinning hopes on several government policies and incentives for the revival of the industry.

In a conversation with fibre2fashion, Mr. Anthony Mureithi, CEO of Cotton Development Authority (CODA) of Kenya, said, “Reduction of import duty to zero percent on all synthetic yarns, acrylic yarn, polyester yarn and high ferocity yarn from a rate of 10 percent in 2010-11 is one of the initiative by the Kenya Government to create more employment and improve export earnings.”

However, Mr. JP Olarewaju, director general of Nigerian Textile and Garment and Tailoring Employers Association (NUTGTWN), says, “At present, the Nigerian textile industry receives no subsidy in any form from the Government, except those involved in exports have some Export Expansion Grant (EEG).”

“Meanwhile, the Government has promised it would revive the ailing Nigerian textile industry.  It is envisaged that Nigerian Government will impose higher tariff on imported fabrics to discourage importation and it will also come out with package of incentives for local manufacturers,” he mentions.

Talking about the importance of various government policies for the revival of the textile industry in Kenya, Mr. Mureithi says, “Most of the textiles and apparels meant for exports are produced at the Export Processing Zones (EPZ). With the end of multi fibre agreement in 2005, the exports oriented firms have been on downward turn due to the unfair competition and loss of export orders.”  

The textile industry in the African countries is an important source of income for the people in the region. So once the various policies announced by the Government of Nigeria and Kenya is implemented, it will not only revive the textile sector but it will also improve the lives of large amount of people in the region.

According to Mr. Mureithi, employment in the textile cluster of Kenya is estimated at 50,000 people and it includes those employed in cotton and other textiles including spinning, weaving, finishing, knitting, non apparel manufacturing, whole sale and retail trade.

Mr. Olarewaju says, “Nigeria has the largest textile industry in the Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa. The sector directly employed 250,000-300,000 people and was also a source of livelihood to backward and forward linkages and other supporting services. It was capable of producing over 1.5 billion linear meters of fabrics.”

“But it currently employs only 25,000 direct employees and produces less than 250 million linear meters of fabrics,” he informs.