Sharp rise in China’s labour costs blessing for Africa’s textile

By Winsley Masese

A sharp rise in labour costs in China and other key textile sourcing markets is forcing the world’s attention to African countries such as Kenya as a preferred sourcing destination. Textile lobby, African Cotton and Textile Industries Federation (ACTIF) says buyers may consider new sourcing markets.

This is despite China and Bangladesh dominating the global textile and apparel sector for decades. ACTIF Chairman, Jaswinder Bedi, called for the setting up of technology upgrade fund to enable local millers to transition to new technology.

Bedi spoke at the launch of the 2014 edition of “Origin Africa”, a global campaign to raise awareness about Africa as a preferred apparel-sourcing destination in Nairobi.

ACTIF Executive Director, Rajeev Arora, said Africa as a source of raw materials, coupled with social and environmental issues around textile and apparel supply chains, competitive labour costs and attractive trade and investment arrangements.

“We are looking to changing perceptions about Africa and make the value chain more visible as a source of cotton, textile and apparel products for the domestic, regional and international markets,” said Arora.

Arora added that leading global apparel buyers are also turning their attention to Africa because of the duty free and quota free privileges the US offers through Agoa and  and  the European Union under the Economic Partnership Agreements.

Export Processing Zone Authority Managing Director Cyrille Nabutola assured investors that Government is improving the investment environment including lowering the cost of electricity and marketing Kenya as top sourcing destination for global companies.

Africa cotton exports account for about 12 per cent of world cotton lint exports while  90 per cent of  cotton production is sold to other countries for processing.

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