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(#5 / 2018 - 17 April 2018)
Ghana’s textiles and apparel exports to the world in 2016 were US$24m
Ghana’s textiles and apparel exports to the EU in 2016 were
Ghana’s textiles and apparel exports to the US in 2016 were US$6.6m
The South African (SA) Competition Commission has conditionally approved the proposed merger whereby Boardriders Inc. intends to acquire Billabong International Limited (Billabong). The Commission has approved the proposed merger subject to a condition that there be a moratorium on job losses. In addition, a year before the moratorium ends, details of any plans affecting employment or operations must be provided to workers and their union. In the event that jobs losses are unavoidable when the duration of the moratorium lapses, the merged entity must institute a workplace committee to help identify potential alternatives to avoid job losses. READ HERE >>

Two SA companies face prosecution on charges of collusive tendering and price fixing in relation to a national state tender to supply blankets to the SA Prisons Service. The prosecution comes after the SA’ Competition Commission launched an investigation into Aranda Textile Mills (also the designer/manufacturer of the iconic Basotho blanket) and Mzansi Blanket Supplies. Apparently Aranda and Mzansi agreed that Aranda would share its pricing schedule with Mzansi so that Mzansi could adjust its prices to be higher than those of Aranda. Furthermore Aranda and Mzansi allegedly agreed that should Mzansi be awarded the tender, it would source all its blankets from Aranda for the duration of the tender.

The matter has been referred to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution; the Commission wants the parties to be each fined 10% of their annual turnover.
Things are getting decidedly messy with the SA competition authorities' investigations of local textile/home textile companies supplying the SA government via state procurement systems.
The above matter, involving Aranda Textiles brings to three the number of recent instances where large textile/home textile manufacturing firms have been accused of colluding on prices (with smaller non-manufacturing companies) when bidding on government contracts. Da Gama Textiles (the Goodhope Textile Corporation) has already been fined, while Berg River Textiles (part of the Winelands Textile group) now awaits news of what it will be fined.
In terms of SA’s Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act regulations, which came into effect in December 2011, the SA Department of Trade & Industry has designated that all textiles, clothing, leather and footwear goods supplied to the state (central/provincial/local governments; and parastatals) must be 100% made in the SA. This move has partly contributed to stabilising employment in large sections of the textile and apparel industry; in some sectors it has even created new employment (for example, YKK zippers established an assembly plant in the port city of Durban).
This local content requirement in state tenders has mainly been championed by the Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) - which, embarrassingly for the union, is also a major shareholder of Winelands Textiles! Nonetheless the industry involved in this section of the pipeline has a lot to thank SACTWU for.

In spite of SACTWU's persistent efforts many problems still remain.
Some state procurement officers sidestep the 100% local ruling and buy imported goods; some set quantity level so low that no local manufacturer is interested in manufacturing the items required; while some procurement staff set technical product requirements that effectively mean that only imported products can be supplied. It now appears that some firms, aware of the fact that they have a captive market with limited competition, are now starting to collude on prices.
The SA competition authorities have done well in uncovering illegal activity. Although the quantum of fine, reportedly 0.4% of annual turnover for 2013 in the case of Da Gama Textiles, was merely a slap on the wrist - hardly something that would deter further illegal activity. Its unknown if any senior management of these companies were (or will be) severely sanctioned by the ultimate shareholders for their illegal conduct. Its also unclear if any of the companies involved in collusive activities will be punished by the state by being excluded, for a set period of time, from tendering for state projects - although its unlikely for if companies like Da Gama and Wineland Textiles were precluded from tendering the SA government institutions would have to buy imported product as there would be limited other local capacity suppliers.

The United States' (US) Senate has approved an African Growth & Opportunity (AGOA) modernisation act (HR 3445), sending the measure to the US President for his signature. The bill directs the President to establish a website for the collection and dissemination of information regarding the AGOA. The US Department of State is urged to promote the use by eligible sub-Saharan African countries of the benefits available under AGOA. The President is urged to: i) facilitate trans-boundary trade among eligible sub-Saharan African countries; ii) provide training for business and government trade officials on accessing AGOA benefits; iii) provide capacity building for African entrepreneurs and trade associations on production strategies, quality standards, and market development; iv) provide capacity building training to promote product diversification and value-added processing; and, iv) provide capacity building and technical assistance funding to help African businesses and institutions comply with US counter-terrorism policies. READ HERE >>

The United States' Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service produces a monthly publication entitled "Cotton: World Markets & Trade". The April 2018 report includes data on US and global trade, production, consumption; as well as analysis of events affecting world cotton trade. Africa, as an important producer of cotton, features in the useful statistical tables. It is reported that Sudan’s cotton crop estimate now sits at 350,000 bales - significantly smaller than the previous season's 500,000 bales. READ HERE>>


The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), through its public-private partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Standards Alliance, has run a two-part training series on textile and apparel standards in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. The March 2018 training was organised in collaboration with Ethical Apparel Africa, which supports West African textiles and apparel manufacturers in reaching international markets. READ HERE >>

The Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) brand, founded in 2005 by Dr. Michael Otto as a social business to protect the environmental and to support one million sub-Saharan African smallholder farmers, claims that in 2017 that about 90 million textile and apparel items bore the CmiA origin/quality label. The initiative claims that more than 11,000 factory workers in the African cotton processing industry also benefitted from their branding. CmiA operates in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda. READ HERE >>

In late March 2018 H&M’s South African (SA) country manager met with the SA Human Rights Commission to present H&M’s plans to remedy the effects of its racist sweater advertisement of January 2018. READ HERE >>

The Textile Exchange is collaborating with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) on a series of organic cotton focused activities in West Africa. These include a market opportunity scoping project, a documentary showcasing the region’s organic cotton sector, and the launch of a Regional Organic Cotton Round Table. In a related development in February 2018 the ground-breaking ceremony took place for the first organic cotton gin in West Africa, located in Koudougou (Burkina Faso). The gin is a collaboration between the United States’ Department of Agriculture, the CRS and a range of Burkina Faso cotton bodies. It is hoped that the gin will be up and running by early 2019. READ HERE >>

2018 to 2030

Consultants for the South African (SA) Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) are now at an advanced stage of stitching together another industry strategy - a “Masterplan” for the SA Retail / Clothing / Textile / Footwear / Leather (R-CTFL) pipeline.
The consultant terms of reference states that the rejuvenation of the R-CTFL supply chain in the SA, in alignment with the domestic retailers’ strategic and operational requirements, should be a real boon to all parties, with commensurate benefits for labour and broader society.
The Masterplan consultants will only work on that element of the broader value chain which manufactures goods which end-up being sold by SA apparel, home textile and footwear retailers. They will not be responsible for developing any proposals for other elements of a more broadly defined textile, apparel, footwear and leather value chain, for example: relating to technical textiles, or industrial and corporate workwear, or for items procured via state procurement systems, etc.
The Masterplan consultant has been tasked with producing a sequenced four element report dealing with: i) a status quo analysis of the R-CTLF value chain; ii) an overview of international trends and other countries’ sector strategies; iii) a SA R-CTFL Masterplan to the year 2030; and, iv) a set of R-CTFL policy recommendations that will guide industry development till 2030. The consultants and a small grouping of stakeholders hope to deliver the package of recommendations to the South African (SA) Minister for Trade & Industry sometime in July/August 2018.

Unlike previous value chain strategy development exercises, which have involved many working groups, the Masterplan’s development is being tightly controlled by a small stakeholder group.
It appears as if the approximate R3m (US$248,000) assignment has not been openly tendered. This is in spite of the fact that the exercise appears to be mainly funded (and ultimately managed) by staff from the SA’s DTI. Some SA headquartered retailers involved in the apparel / home textile / footwear / and related goods trade have made financial contributions to the masterplan initiative.
Its likely that the DTI is funding this study via the funds that it annually allocates to the Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) research unit – a Pretoria head-quartered outfit closely allied to the DTI LEARN MORE >>. The current chair of the TIPS’ board is Garth Strachan who is the DTI’s Deputy Director-General for Industrial Development Policy (in the 2017/18 budget the DTI allocated TIPS a grant of R21.4m (US$1.8m)).

The Masterplan's development is being undertaken by B&M Analysts. These consultants also currently run two DTI funded textile / apparel / footwear cluster programmes in the SA - one in the Western Cape province LEARN MORE >> and another in KwaZulu-Natal province LEARN MORE >>. The consultancy also has, as private clients, a number of South African clothing / home textiles / footwear retailers - its work for them relates to "supplier development" programmes.
Have you ever seen the cult movie “Groundhog Day”? Its a film about a luckless TV weather anchorman who wakes-up one day and repeats that same day over and over and over and over again. He meets the same people; encounters the same events; … but each day has slightly different ending twist. He ultimately escapes after being trapped for a considerable period of time SEE HERE >>.

I now feel like the hapless TV weatherman watching the development of yet another strategy for the SA’s battered textile, apparel and footwear industry. Its somewhat bewildering. The only difference for me now is that I am an uninvolved outside observer.

Having been involved in the SA’s industry since 1989 I have seen so many plans. For my sins – and I have many - I have participated in the development of many industry plans. There was the Hatty Committee, the Swart Panel & Task Group, the three Industrial Strategy Project interventions, a Sector Summit following the Jobs’ Summit, the Customised Sector Programmes, the Industrial Policy Action Plans. I am sure I must have left some out.
No plans ever succeeded beyond temporarily stabilising the industry – none ever, in spite of their noblest intentions, ever put the value chain on a sustained growth path.
I accept that something must be done for the industry – the SA’s textile and apparel value chain is not, in its current form, really going anywhere. Its stuck, and unless something meaningful is done it stands a real chance of slipping backwards into yet another cycle of more short-time working, followed by more retrenchments, and ultimately, a wave of plant closures.
The government’s strategy over the past few years of ploughing huge amounts of money into the sector, while perhaps being useful at that time, is not really going to work anymore. A myriad of vital industry issues continue to remain untouched. In addition, the recent strengthening of the SA currency (if sustained) will mean that there will be a greater propensity for retailers and their sourcing houses to ramp-up the import of textile, apparel and footwear products.
From my point of view, its essentially wrong that custom’s tariffs remain on a range of fabrics that are never going to be made in the Southern African Customs Union; its highly problematic that the SA's custom’s authorities (and their Southern African Customs Union (SACU) counterparts) seem to be unable to get a proper grip on the smuggling; and, its flawed that there are few thought through micro strategies to properly fix, on a sustainable basis, some key mini-value chains.

The Masterplan work is now more than three quarters complete - but here are some ideas for industry stakeholders to reflect upon.

As a starting point I believe it will be useful for all stakeholders to attempt to understand why previous industry plans developed have failed - most failing in the abhorently miserable category. There could be many reasons. For me a common problem with most previous strategies was that only a few of each plans’ core recommendations were fully implemented. For example: it would be unlikely that interventions to facilitate the technological upgrading of plants would be of much benefit if there were only half-hearted interventions aimed at limiting smuggling.

Whatever Masterplan is developed a structure in the DTI is most probably going to have to manage its implementation. In my view the DTI's current textile, apparel, footwear and leather sector desk is perhaps too weak to do this. The fact that the DTI has had to commission an outside consultancy to cobble together the Masterplan (and most probably even use an external consultant to cobble together the terms of reference used to engage the consultant), is in part evidence of how lacking the DTI’s sector desk is. One hears stories of how staff in this directorate call industry players in order to ascertain who makes a particular category of products. This sector desk needs to be retooled and upgraded. This is going to be hard for the consultants and many stakeholders to say publicly because they are unsure as to the consequences of criticising the staff in this unit. The DTI's senior management would do well to consider undertaking a structured review of the capacity and efficacy of this unit.

Perhaps there should be a pause in current Masterplan proceedings. Why is it that there is a rush to complete the Masterplan technical work by mid-2018 - for a fix-it plan that will run through to at least 2030? Have any of the other sectors of the textile-apparel industry not covered by the scope of this Masterplan (such as the technical textiles sector, the wool pipeline, the industrial and corporate workwear element) being given such a deadline? The only reason I can think of for the tight deadline is that government ministries may need to develop their budgets to fund elements of the plan. Of course its possible that the SA Finance Ministry (aka "Treasury") would want some more hard facts too before commiting further resources. Starting with: how effectively was our previous expenditure in funding ailing businesses and projects in the value chain.
The Masterplan’s consultant’s work would be greatly enhanced if they had the benefit of being able to access the results of a rigorous, independent, evaluation relating to many of the financial and sector support programmes that have been accessed by value chain participants.

For example:
how successful have each of the DTI funded cluster initiatives (the one focussing in on “sustainability” [aka = SASTAC], on mohair, on technical textiles, on footwear/leather, fashion, and the regional cluster in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces) been. The reviews of some of these clusters programmes should not only examine their value for money, but also details of the efficacy of their day-to-day administration (finances / project management / executive oversight).

In addition the consultant's work would also be enhanced should it have access to independent reviews of all of the sector funding interventions managed by the SA’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) over at least the past ten years. It would be of enormous value if the consultants were to be able understand why some of the IDC's sector investments did well. and why others failed (e.g. Trubok, Opus One, Chic Shoes, Peter Blond & Associates, Imphala Clothing, Sustainable Fibre Solutions, Herdmans, etc). In my view the investment failures [were some of the individual investments something the IDC should never have gotten into in the first place; does the IDC have the necessary internal capacity to keep an eye on a firm to which it has extended a loan; was the incumbent day-to-day management lacking (if so in what areas)] will offer useful insights for the Masterplan as it is likely that its recomendations will ultimately require additional funding to be made available to value chain firms.

It would also be useful if the consultant could also access any evaluation reports of other state funding vehicles which have lent money to firms in the value chain. For example the activities of the National Empowerment Fund (an overview of its Delswa investment may offer some valuable learnings), and the loans that various provincial industrial development banks may have extended.
"You can wear them while exercising, lounging around, out on the town, or even to work. High-elasticity pants—whether designed for yoga or athleisure—are a versatile part of many women’s wardrobes. They may be more popular than another American staple: blue jeans. US imports of women’s elastic knit pants exceeded those of blue jeans in 2017 for the first time, according to data from the US Census Bureau. Denim imports have been declining since peaking in 2010, while imports of stretchy pants continue to rise. Since their peak, women’s blue jeans imports have declined by an average of 3.9% annually. Over the same period, elastic knit pants grew 25.7% per year on average." SOURCE

In 2017 five sub-Saharan African (SSA) states exported US$93.9m worth of womens' stretch pants (HS6104.63.20) to the US. Lesotho was the largest exporter (US$77.4m), followed by Kenya with US$15.1m. The growth of Lesotho's stretch pants exports has been remarkable - in 2010 its firms exported a mere US$14.3m worth of items under HS6104.63.20. SSA states use the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) because of the tremendous duty advantages it give them. If the pants were to enter the US from places like China, Vietnam or India they would attract US customs duties of 28.2% - however using AGOA they enter free of any tariffs; and, most importantly they can, because of the AGOA third country fabric ruling, they can be made with fabrics sourced from anywhere in the world.

Currently one of the biggest drivers of the Lesotho women's stretch pants trade with the US is one of the manufacturers of the fabrics used to make the pants - the Taiwanese headquartered Eclat Textiles group which has large textile mills making the fabrics in Vietnam. It is now rumoured that the Taiwanese owned Makalot Industrial has now been scouting for Lesotho garment manufacturer vendors to also make stretch pants for it. It is thus highly possible that Lesotho exports will mushroom - especially since two/three new garment manufacturering units are shortly to come on stream in Lesotho. Its also likely that since Swaziland has now been readmitted to the AGOA programme that many of its forms will start to concentrate on making womens' stretch pants.

This is good news - for as long as AGOA lasts, for as long as US women's fashion tastes remain the same, and, for as long as the US does not sign-up to the Transpacific Partnership Partnership (TPP) which will allow Vietnamese made apparel to have easier access to the US marketplace.


About: Ethical Apparel Africa (EAA) is a sourcing company that provides international apparel brands with ethical, cost competitive and quality manufacturing solutions in West Africa. Its vision is to demonstrate that ethical manufacturing (i.e. producing garment in an environment where workers are respected and empowered) can be done at scale, and the products produced not associated with luxury/expensive products. The sourcing house has (and continues) to identify African-owned factories that have potential to develop and scale-up with a ‘beyond compliance’ attitude. As EAA’s partner factories improve efficiency, associated savings are reinvested into worker empowerment and living wages – again improving performance through greater productivity and reduced workforce turnover. This virtuous cycle is at the core of EAA’s theory of change and drives its ability to deliver high quality, cost competitive, and ethically manufactured product for its clients.

Textile and Apparel Objectives: Though West Africa has been slower to jump on the opportunity to sell volume produced garments to global market than other regions in Africa, it is in fact more geographically conducive to develop a significant apparel sector as a result of: i) favorable trade agreements, ii) fast shipping times, iii) workforce availability and a low cost of living, iv) political and economical stability. EAA’s objective is to get it right from the beginning: supporting African-owned factories that prioritise their employees’ well-being and have the potential to create thousands of high quality jobs as the export industry grows.

Operations: To date EAA has supported three manufacturing factories in West Africa (in Benin and Ghana) to export garments to the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. EAA is committed to their brand partners’ success and works with them to tell the stories behind the product in a way that resonates with & engages consumers. To date, EAA has been focused on formal shirts, clergy wear, core ladies fashion, pet accessories with a minimum order quantity of 1,000 pieces per style. It aims, by 2027, to support 15 factories and create 5,000 decent jobs.

HQ: EAA’s main office is located in Accra (Ghana).

Value Chain Assessment Report: Apparel”. West Africa Trade & Investment Hub, the African Partners Network. May 2014. Bethesda, United States. Prepared for the USAID funded West African Trade & Investment Hub, and the African Partners Network by Abt Associates, in collaboration with JE Austin Associates.

Synopsis: This report focuses on the apparel value chain in the West Africa region that falls within the jurisdiction the then newly launched West Africa Trade & Investment Hub. It summarises the current structure, competitiveness, socio-economic importance, and dynamics of the apparel value chain in the region. The report describes the key challenges and growth options facing the value chain, and it suggests strategic directions that will lead to sustainable growth and competitive upgrading of the value chain, enabling West Africa to firmly establish a vibrant apparel manufacturing sector that generates investment, exports, and thousands of jobs. The full report can be found HERE >>.

Assessment of Companies in the West African Textile Sector”. Guy Carpenter. March 2017. Arlington, United States. Prepared for USAID funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub by JE Austin Associates).

Synopsis: An assessment was undertaken to evaluate and determine if the repair of original equipment in a sample of some existing West African textile factories was possible, if the cost to do so was justifiable, or whether to recommend the replacement of the equipment new, higher efficiency equipment. It was found that overall, the repair of existing equipment was possible and the cost of spare parts was justifiable. Most of the mills visited had adequate yarn spinning capability – albeit that they were using relatively old equipment. The capability of textile weaving machines was less clear. It was observed that the mechanical weaving machines still in operation are prone to less than perfect when it came to be producing quality product. It was found that most were not worth repairing. The biggest consideration related to integrated textile manufacturing was the lack of dyeing and finishing capabilities in the region. The full report can be found HERE >>.

2018 - West Africa Cotton and Products Annual". US Department of Agriculture – Foreign Agricultural Service. April 2018. Dakar, Senegal.
Synopsis: In the marketing year 2018/19 (August to July) the total area under cotton cultivation for Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Senegal is projected to decrease to 1.67m hectares due to the possibility of limited credit and inputs in Burkina Faso and Chad. However, for the same marketing year total cotton production for all the aforementioned countries is estimated to rise four percent to 2.86m metric tons on expectations of strong prices, good weather, and better pest management. In the same period total exports are expected to increase 3% on higher exportable supplies and strong international demand.

Many Burkina Faso cottons farmers are reportedly in default and unable to pay loans for the last crop season due to low production, which may bar them from accessing financing for the next marketing year of 2018/19. The union of cotton farmers requested that the ginning companies reduce the remaining debt by half and allow deferred payments for two to three years. It is unclear if any debt will be forgiven, and how much credit and inputs may be available. Because of pest issues in the marketing year 2017/18, cotton producers are also allegedly urging ginning companies to distribute Bt cotton seeds to help control the cotton bollworm pest.

The report briefly comments upon the existing capacity of textile manufacturing capacity (mainly spinning) of Burkina Faso & Mali. The full report can be found HERE >>.
  • Africa Occupational Safety & Health (A-OSH) - Trade Show - 22-24 May 2018. Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information:
  • Source Africa - Trade Show - 20-21 June 2018. Cape Town, South Africa. For more information:
  • 14th Symposium of the Southern & East Africa Cotton Forum - Workshop - 4-6 July 2018. Harare, Zimbabwe. For more information: SEACF
  • Apparel Sourcing New York - Trade Show - 23-25 July 2018. New York, United States. For more information:
  • Sourcing at Magic - Trade Show - 12-15 August 2018. Las Vegas, United States. For more information:
  • International Textile Manufacturers' Federation (ITMF) - Annual Conference - 7-9 September 2018. Nairobi, Kenya. For more information:
  • Origin Africa – Trade Show - 9-11 September 2018. Nairobi, Kenya. For more information:
  • Apparel Sourcing Paris - Trade Show - 17-20 September 2018. Paris, France. For more information:
  • Africa Sourcing & Fashion Week (ASFW) - Trade Show - 1-4 October 2018. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For more information:
  • Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference - Annual Conference - 22-24 October 2018. Milan, Italy. For more Information:
  • Destination Africa - Trade Show - 17-19 November 2018. Cairo, Egypt. For more information:
  • ATF Expo - Trade Show - 20-23 November 2018. Cape Town, South Africa. For more information:
  • 77th Plenary Meeting - International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) - Annual Conference - 2-7 December 2018. Abidjan, Ivory Coast. For more information:
Looking for staff? Want to engage a consultant? Have equipment to sell? Do you need 2nd hand machinery? Have a tender? For a limited period the "African Cotton, Textiles & Apparel Monitor" will publish (free of charge) select classified advertisements from firms / development organisations active in the Africa's crop to shop value chain. Adverts limited to 50 words / 300 characters (and may include a mini logo).
Africa New Confection, one of Ethical Apparel Africa’s partner factories based in Benin (West Africa) is looking for (1) Senior Mechanic (2) Supervisor. Please look at the job descriptions on Send your resume and cover letter to

Ethical Apparel Africa is looking for talented and passionate individuals to fill new roles as Production Manager, Quality Assurance Manager, Technical Manager and Technical Director based in Benin and Ghana (West Africa) so do not hesitate to send your resume and cover letter to

PWC Kenya is in the process of recruiting: i) a Textiles Technical Expert - Operations & Production; and ii) a Textiles Marketing Expert. More details relating to both positions can be found HERE >>. The closing date for applications is 20 April 2018.
about Mark Bennett - Editor
"The African Cotton, Textiles & Apparel Monitor"
I have almost 30 years' experience working in Africa's cotton, textiles and apparel value chain. Initially I was, for 15 years, a sector trade unionist in South Africa; then, from 2004 onwards, I worked as a development consultant for various Southern / Eastern African governments, and domestic private sectors. In my development activities I have been engaged by private sector foundations, and by DFID and USAID funded contractors. I find it rewarding creating development interventions that help cotton, textiles and apparel stakeholders to better processes, improve productivity, increase sales and add investment. See my full CV at Devex or LinkedIn.
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