Textiles & Apparel

Supporting East Africa to realise the window of opportunity of jobs moving from Asia – through triggering early deals and investments that begin to position East Africa as a responsible destination for apparel production

A textile factory

Around the world, the Textiles & Apparel sector has played a critical role in lifting countries out of poverty.

Africa accounts for less than 1% of the global Textile and Apparel trade

Total value generated by textiles and apparel globally

The sector employs more than 300 million people around the world

The Opportunity

The Textiles and Apparel sector is one of the few sectors which can generate millions of jobs in urban and peri-urban areas, including significant employment opportunities for women and youth.

While this sector has made slow progress in East Africa in the past decades, there are good reasons to believe momentum is shifting. Some of the largest buyers in the world are showing interest in East Africa, as they seek to diversify from China and East Asia where wages are increasing, and the sector has faced reputational risks. Some manufacturers are also diversifying from Ethiopia.

Our work with governments across the region has identified strategic public and private investments that will enable East Africa to become a major environmentally and socially responsible base for garment production. The early signs are positive with the region’s factories starting to perform well, order volumes growing, investors targeting East Africa and with governments seeing the opportunity. Private investors are also now starting to show interest in building business parks.

Women using sewing machines

Our present areas of work

Supporting existing mills in East Africa as they supply international buyers and build momentum

Engaging with infrastructure providers and stakeholders in the water, environmental and waste management clusters to develop adequate industrial space

Engaging governments in East Africa to ensure they recognise the sector’s potential and have the right strategies, plans and capacity in place to unlock this

Aligning the initiatives of donors and other players to ensure they productively contribute to the sector’s rapid development

“Increasingly, global brands are recognising the opportunity and seeking to establish competitive and responsible operations in Africa.”