More and more western companies are showing interest in sourcing from Africa. The likes of Vanity Fair and PVH are now setting up base in countries like Kenya and Ethiopia. However, manufacturers in Africa face numerous challenges due to infrastructure, strained further by the lack of qualified workers. Productivity is the key to unlocking Africa. The continent has to boost its competitive advantage in the textile and apparel sector.
AGOA, the trade treaty has helped many African nations to boost exports. For example, the Tanzanian textile and apparel industry has had 71 per cent growth under the AGOA agreement. The cotton-rich country is leading the way in terms of sustainability, catering strongly to the increased desire for ecological transparency throughout the supply chain. The region’s minimal use of pesticides has resulted in growing interest from the likes of the Better Cotton Initiative and Cotton Made in Africa.
For future growth, it is essential for Africa to maximise the opportunities presented by AGOA, and more importantly develop the local market. This could involve addressing restrictions between African countries to support inter-regional trade, and removing barriers such as customs and trade barriers.
Audits alone will not bring compliance. These social and environmental matters require collaboration in order to achieve continuous improvement across the value chain. AGOA was initially intended as a springboard for African growth and development into the global economy.