Regional initiatives boost African textile industry

Cambridge guerrilla knitter strikes again (Thinkstock)

A series of regional initiatives are boosting jobs and trade in Africa's textiles, clothing and footwear sectors.

SANews.gov reports that the country's Clothing Textile Competitiveness Programme strategy has helped the industry to become internationally competitive.

These were the sentiments shared by Lionel October, director general of the Department of Trade and Industry, who spoke at the launch of a four-day Source Africa 2013 event in Cape Town this week.

He said: "Local retailers are increasing procurement from local manufacturers and there is confidence starting to be shown by the new investment in the sectors."

Mr October went on to say that employment decline in these sectors has been stopped, with more than 12,000 new permanent roles created and a commitment to local procurement and manufacturing proving successful.

In the Southern African Customs Union, which also includes Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, the regional initiatives are working well, with other African countries also taking advantage of trade agreements across the continent to support growth in these industries.

Knitted clothing is doing particularly well in Mauritius, with South Africa being their main African destination, helping to promote internal trade growth.

Mr October went on to say that these labour intensive sectors have the potential to create large employment opportunities.

"The industry has the biggest advantage that the raw materials like fibres, skins and hides are readily available in the African countries and it make business sense to beneficiate these raw materials instead of exporting jobs by selling these resources to countries out of Africa," he added.

Knit Rowan is preparing to launch a new Fine Art sock yarn using hand-painted wool from the Cape Mohair Spinners in South Africa.

Proudly supporting the training and employment of individuals from some of the poorest and most marginalised sections of the community, an increase in production demand has already meant that the group have had to relocate to a larger site and take on more staff.

The eight stunning shades of yarn use an exquisite blend of 45 per cent wool, 25 per cent polyamide for added durability, 20 per cent mohair and ten per cent silk and will be available this May.

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