The tremendous opportunity for Africa’s fashion industry attracted global attention at the recent 2017 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in India.
The AfDB media channel said that an estimated 3,000 Annual Meetings attendees got a feel of the flavour of the work of these creative stylists. Beautifully dressed models walked the catwalk to show how African fabrics are inspiring more and more famous designers.
“Fashion is not just about design or inspiration. It’s also a multi-million dollar industry that creates millions of jobs, including in textile and clothing manufacturing,” said Emanuela Gregorio, gender specialist at the AfDB.
Through its Fashionomics initiative, AfDB is supporting the development of creative industries that utilize products, especially cotton, in Africa. Through this initiative, AfDB is promoting investments in the fashion sector, increasing access to finance for entrepreneurs and incubating and accelerating starts-ups.
At a session on “Creating Wealth through Fashionomics”, experts and practitioners discussed methods of promoting textile manufacturing in Africa – where many of the textile and clothing firms are small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It also set agenda for how the involvement of African countries in the global textile industry could look like (from conception and design).
Drawing on its High 5 agenda, the Bank is investing in high-growth sectors that have the potential to promote economic empowerment and create 25 million jobs over the next decade.
The textile/clothing market is already worth more than US$ 31 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa and accounts for the second largest number of jobs in developing countries after agriculture, many of whom are women and young people.
In Côte d’Ivoire, women own 80 percent of businesses in the industry and close to half of the entrepreneurs are under the age of 35. These are also mostly SMEs. Only 33 percent work with local suppliers.
In Ethiopia, a pioneer in the textile industry in the region with more than 40,000 employees, salaries are three times lower than in Côte d’Ivoire and the cost of electricity remains low due to availability of hydropower, and inputs are affordably priced.
It is expected that the textile clothing industry could generate 400,000 jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa alone and exports could double in the next 10 years.