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(#11 / 2018 - 29 May 2018)
Tanzania’s exports of textiles & apparel (HS50-63) to the United States in 2017 were worth US$40.5m
Tanzania’s exports of textiles & apparel (HS50-63) to the European Union in 2017 were worth US$9.4m
Tanzania’s exports of textiles & apparel (HS50-63) to South Africa in 2017 were worth US$9m

There was heated debate in the Tanzania parliament when MPs started to ask questions, when discussing the trade and industry Ministry’s 2018/19 budget, as to what the Ministry had done to help the country’s textile and apparel industry. According to reports many MPs were up in arms over the government’s failure to implement its own “Cotton to Clothing” strategy – a policy which they saw as integral to revamping over a dozen textile mills in Arusha, Mwanza, Mara, Morogoro and Dar es Salaam. Many MPs argued that this industry was the best point for Tanzania to start its industrialisation journey. MPs also questioned the Ministry of Trade & Industry about the ease of doing business in Tanzania. They said it was tough to do business in Tanzania as taxes were high and that there were numerous regulations that were investor unfriendly. READ HERE >>

See below in this newsletter under “
RESEARCH” for Tanzania’s “Cotton to Clothing” strategy document.

​A workshop on “Organising the International Supply Chain” in the textile and garment sector has kick-started a debate on wages and decent work in Ethiopia. The workshop, held in Addis Ababa on 22 May 2018, included representatives from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the global IndustriAll trade union federation, the Ethiopian Industrial Federation of Textile, Leather & Garment Workers Union (IFTLGWU), the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU), Ethiopian government officials, the Ethiopian Investment Corporation, and a number of global apparel brands and manufacturers. Issues discussed included ILO Convention 87 on “Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise”, minimum wages, and decent work. The unions argued that there should be social dialogue in order to stop union-bashing tactics by some employers that included terminating, transferring or demoting union leaders to weaken the union. READ HERE >>
As reported on in a previous edition of the “African Cotton, Textiles & Apparel Monitor” (#9 / 2018 15 May) there was, in May 2018, a large strike by workers in Ethiopia’s Bole Lemi industrial park. The park, which became operational in 2014, has 20 sheds and accommodates 14,200 workers (13,000 of which are female); most of its factories produce apparel, while nine were engaged in the production of shoes and gloves. This Ethiopian newspaper report provides an overview of some aspects of the strike, some of the workers’ demands, and the some of the employer and government responses. READ HERE >>
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Rwandan President Paul Kagame visited Ethiopia's flagship Hawassa Industrial Park. The industrial park, which the Ethiopian government considers as a model for the construction of other industrial zones across the country, has proved successful immediately after its inauguration in July 2016. READ HERE >>

Those sub-Saharan African countries with ambitions to develop significant textile and apparel industries (e.g. Kenya, Madagascar, Swaziland, Lesotho, Ghana and Tanzania) can learn a lot from Ethiopia. What initiatives to replicate; what pitfalls to avoid; what infrastructure to develop; how to manage infrastructure, what skills development programmes should be put in place; how to deal with a very skeptical IMF and World Bank; etc. These aspirant nations would do well if their Heads of State and of government, accompanied by their ministers of finance / development / trade & industry, and line bureaucrats, visited Ethiopia to see what that country has done to develop industry.

Side-marketing manoeuvres by some private cotton firms have come under the spotlight as it has emerged that the names of dead people and children under the age of ten are appearing in the data base of the Zimbabwe Agriculture & Marketing Authority’s (AMA) beneficiaries of cotton contract farming schemes. The Government, through the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) contracted nearly 400,000 farmers after investing $62m into cotton production. A yield of about 100,000 tons is expected this year, up from the 74,000 tons produced last year. READ HERE >>
Bulawayo textile giant, Archer Clothing Manufacturers, has increased employment to 1,000 and is looking forward to adding another 600 staff subject to forex availability to procure machinery and raw materials. The company’s managing director, Jeremy Youmans, advised that the plant was buying whatever inputs that could be made locally, but that most of the fabrics that they required could not be made in Zimbabwe. READ HERE >> and also READ HERE >>

Surface Wilmar, the local unit of Singapore giant Wilmar International, says it has submitted a proposal to the Zimbabwean government in order to acquire 50% of the struggling Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco). Under the proposal, which is at an elementary stage, the firm will take over management of Cottco and inject US$100m to revive its operations. The proposal is being considered by the Zimbabwean President, and the Zimbabwean Ministries of Agriculture, and of Industry. Ironically it appears as if the possible takeover has nothing to do with cotton lint – apparently the Wilmar wants to guarantee its supplies of edible oils. Apparently the company is of the view that if Cottco is revived that the country will have 150,000 to 200,000t of seed and this will supply a third of the country’s oil requirements because cotton is about 18% oil. Wilmar describes itself as Asia’s leading agribusiness group and among the largest listed companies by market capitalisation on the Singapore Stock Exchange, with a market capitalisation of US$40bn. READ HERE >>
Angolan textile company Alassola exported 454 tons of cotton thread to Portugal between October 2017 and 12 May 2018. The firm’s industrial director said that cotton thread is an intermediate product that the factory has been selling while his company looks for definitive solutions to start the entire production of the factory. Apparently the company needs to raise an additional US$60m to import raw materials, including more cotton, dye stuffs and other primary and secondary chemicals. READ HERE >>
South Africa’s Woolworths Holdings has advised that its Australian division head, John Dixon, will leave and that he won’t be replaced. This comes after one of South Africa’s largest clothing and food retailers was forced to write-off US$541m from the country’s David Jones business earlier this year. The retailer’s 2017 annual report showed Dixon, whose annual remuneration was US$1.85m, was the group’s second highest paid executive after Woolworth Group’s CEO Ian Moir (who received US$2.8m in pay). This placed Dixon’s pay well ahead of Woolworths’ South Africa’s CEO Zyda Rylands’s pay of US$720k; chief operating officer Sam Ngumeni’s pay of US$600k, and finance director Reeza Isaacs’s pay of US$587k. READ HERE >>
The amount of land devoted to Egyptian cotton cultivation in this current season reached 300,000 feddans (about 126,000 hectares), according to the Egyptian Minister of Agriculture & Land Reclamation. The Minister advised that his Ministry is currently conducting several experiments to cultivate new varieties of high productivity and high quality cotton. In the past four years the Ministry provided four new cotton varieties. READ HERE >> and READ HERE >>
Approximately 30% of all Egyptian made garments will be exported to the European Union according to the Egyptian Readymade Garments Export Council. READ HERE >>

The reconstituted National Technical Committee for Textiles & Garments (now comprised of 22 experts) has met to ensure that Ghana meets the textile and apparel quality standards required by the local, and the international markets. A spokesperson in the Ghana Ministry of Trade & Industry said Ghana could not take full advantage of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) due to sub-standard goods. One of the first tasks the Committee has set itself was the development of standards related to slit and kaba, kente, smock and other types of Ghana-made cloth. READ HERE >>
From September 2018, producers and importers of textiles in Ghana would have to affix a stamp on their products. This is to avoid seizure by an anti-piracy taskforce put together by the Ghana Trade & Industry Ministry, and the Industrial & Commercial Workers' Union (ICU). The new directive follows a meeting between the Ministry and the ICU whereat ways of saving the local textiles industry from collapse were discussed. An outright ban was excluded from deliberations because, apparently, the demand for textile prints in Ghana is about 120m yards per annum; while the combined Ghanaian production does not exceed 35m yards per annum. Apparently a stimulus package is also being considered for the industry. It was indicated that at one stage there were over 30 Ghanaian textile companies that employed 25 000 people – but today only 4 survived who employ a little over 2,000 workers. READ HERE >> and READ HERE >>

Should Ghana develop an incentive package for its textile industry it had better be well designed. For it could attract a modern textile printing operation – and its highly likely that a sophisticated plant would employ less people than the remaining plants; and this put some / all of these remaining plants out.

The Swaziland Environment Authority (SEA) has granted two landmark approvals for the importation of Bt cotton seed, and for the environmental release of the crop making the Kingdom of eSwatini the latest African country to adopt Bt cotton. In accordance with the country’s Biosafety Act, SEA granted approval to the Swaziland Cotton Board (SCB) to import 3,000kg of Bt cotton seed for commercial release. The SCB will import the seed from JK Agri-Genetics Limited, an Indian-based seed company. READ HERE >>



On 1 May 2018 Kenya’s President publicly advised that the country’s minimum wages - that also affect textile and apparel workers - would be raised by 5%. READ HERE >>

Subsequently it was reported that many Kenyan employers were concerned by the announcement. They said it would make their enterprises uncompetitive. It was reported that some employers had stated that in 2017 (an election year) that they had to absorb an 18% increase to the country’s minimum wage – implying that this year that they felt that they should not have to grant any increases at all.

To date the new Kenya minimum wage rates, which should have come into force with effect from about 1 May 2018, have still not been made law in the country (the prevailing (2017/18) statutory minimum wage rates can be SEEN HERE >>) .

It now transpires that the Kenya Government may now be contemplating going back on some of its May Day commitments to raise the minimum wage by 5%. Apparently some employers, especially some of those located in the country’s export processing zones (EPZ - Kenya's EPZ employ approximately 52,000 people … many of them engaged in the textile and apparel sector), are pushing for an exemption so that they do not have to pay the increase / pay a lower increase. READ HERE >> The Kenyan Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has issued the following statement. READ HERE >>

The very fact that some Kenyan employers (and perhaps even its government) may be contemplating creating another minimum wages schedule (currently three different rates exist) must be considered to be worrying. An EPZ wage schedule could be put in place this year; but next year what else could be made different? How much more differentiated could the labour market become? Will it be an increase in the length of the working day for EPZ workers, or will the number of additional permissible hours of overtime be extended for workers in EPZ firms, or will Saturday work become compulsory (at normal wage rates) for EPZ workers if any production hours are lost in the course of the previous week for any reason, or could the number of days paid annual leave be reduced for new employees within an EPZ, or will the probationary periods of all new EPZ employees be extended, etc?

It’s also a dangerous move to announce a wage increase – then publicly waver on whether you are going to implement it in the face of a challenge from organised business. Could it illicit a strike from workers (according to the Kenyan President in 2017 more than 100m man hours were lost due to strike action)? Will government pronouncements ever be trusted again? If government grants a special dispensation will business come back and request further concessions? Will workers abandon the government as an instrument of setting minimum wages and pursue their demands via plant level bargaining?

No doubt the Kenyan government will think of some ‘solutions’ around the dilemma they have found themselves in. Perhaps they will persuade employers to accept the current 5% increment – with a guarantee that future minimum wages increments will be 0% or kept at below the inflation rate for the next couple of years. Such a move would remove tensions for this year. Will they implement a new minimum wages schedule - but with no back pay provisions?

But does it have to be this way?

Generally, if managements spent more time focused on improving their own firm’s productivity in collaboration with their most immediate stakeholders (i.e. their staff and the buyers of their garments) then they would really not have to worry about the minimum wages that are set – for, in most instances, plant level productivity improvements could outstrip any of the negative effects of a minor upward adjustment of the national minimum wage.

In this context perhaps its time that Kenyan garment manufacturers started to look at introducing sophisticated factory productivity incentive schemes (I am sure that many firms already have some crude incentive scheme). This, in my view, is perhaps where some of the biggest gains could be made – which would keep many sides happy. Employers would be able to produce more, quality and complicated goods in a lesser amount of time; and workers would get rewarded for this by taking home more pay in the form of an incentive within the broader framework of being guaranteed a decent minimum wage. A well thought though incentive scheme will not only share productivity gains now - but would also be able to reposition the competitiveness of a company into the future.

Of course incentive schemes need to be well thought through. Its not simply a case of introducing a crude piece-rate target system. These systems can be full of flaws – and its often workers that are penalised when things go wrong. Often production workers do not reach the unilaterally set targets for things beyond their control - for example, managements fail to ensure all production inputs are available, or a management production manager fouls-up scheduling, or a line supervisor does not understand simple ‘line balancing’, or the sewing line set-up is not appropriate for the garments going to be produced, etc.

The productivity incentive schemes should have a medium to longer term objective of actually raising the productivity of the whole factory … not the output of select orders. Firms should strive to be able to have multi-skilled workforces that are able to make more complicated, and higher value-add garments.

Governments can also learn a thing or two about encouraging managements to improve productivity. Often the incentives that they give manufacturers (e.g. tax perks, subsidised factory rentals, cash grants, reduced fees for unlimited numbers of expatriate work permits, cheaper utilities, subsidised social compliance programmes, etc) rarely pay any attention to ensuring that firms put in place measures that ensure that they become more competitive in the medium to longer term - that firms on incentives in the short term can survive with lesser incentives in the medium term, and virtually no incentives in the long term.

Governments could require individual firms (or clusters of companies) to establish properly equipped and staffed training centers funded by companies; insist that companies annually engage recognised productivity consultants to help them identify their weaknesses and to propose sequenced interventions; that companies actively seek to develop a cadre of local supervisors and mid-level managements rather than depend entirely on expatriates who cannot speak local languages or who do not understand local culture, etc.

Perhaps a development donor could allocate some resources which would enable the engagement of a consultant whose brief would be to look at production and productivity incentive schemes in the rest of the world. The results of this research would be shared with firm managements, with trade unions, and with government. This kind of research would not only help Kenya – but would be of great benefit to manufacturing enterprises in other African countries with significant garment manufacturing industries.

Another worrying trend, and this is not unique to Kenya, is that many governments which have the responsibility for ultimately deciding on new statutory minimum wages often only decide on new wage rates long after the due date for any increment. In my experience its only in election years where, often rather generous, wage increases are expeditiously set and implemented.

Governments often do not realise what impact its delays in setting wages have on both factory owners and production workers.

For factory owners: when they are uncertain about the precise magnitude of the wage increase it makes their job of precisely costing a garment order extremely difficult. Its often the case that only a couple of cents per unit that will determine whether an order is placed in their factory or in another facility somewhere else in the world. In addition I have often seen that when the increase is finally given legal effect, with retrospectivity, that employers often have to scramble to calculate back pay, and then assemble a new payroll within the couple of days – this is, sometimes, an impossible task. Furthermore this extra pay also places momentary pressures on company cash flows, for example when a company is expecting a 0% increase and a President announces a 5% increase.

For production workers: also suffer when an increase is not implemented on time. They have, like most other people expenses, and they have fixed expenses whose costs adjust upwards every year. They have to find the money to pay for rental accommodation adjustment, to fund school fees / school uniforms / school stationary, to pay child minders, to repay the loan shark that is often a permanent feature of working class lives … and many workers do not want to mess with the loan shark!

One solution would be for governments to convince its social partners to agree to multi year wage settlements. With sufficient built in safeguards (for years two and perhaps year three of the wage increments) multi year wage settlements will bring a lot more certainty - and will allow stakeholders to concentrate on longer term productivity issues.

Tanzania does not, when compared to countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Madagascar, have a very well developed apparel manufacturing industry. But it has a few garment manufacturing firms (some part of vertical / semi-vertical integrated units) which are making impressive inroads into the global apparel market place.

Key Tanzania garment manufacturers would be:

A to Z Textile Mills has a fabric knitting plant with a dye-house, and a garment factory located on the outskirts of Arusha city (near to Mount Kilimanjaro). Its garment plant specialises in the manufacture of knit tops and bottoms. The mega factory complex also makes a variety of other made-up textile products - including impregnated mosquito nets, a range of agricultural textiles, and textile packing products. Its garment plant mainly supplies the South African apparel retail sector. For details of the factory SEE HERE >>.

Sunflag Tanzania is a fully vertical spin, weave/knit, dye/print and garment factory located in the city of Arusha (near to Mount Kilimanjaro). Its garment plant specialises in the manufacture of knit tops. The factory also makes organic textiles (from cotton grown in Tanzania) and garments from these textiles. Other parts of the plant concentrate on making traditional east African fabrics - khanga, kitengi and shuka. It mainly supplies the South African, and to a lesser extent the EU apparel retail sector. For details of the factory SEE HERE >>.

Mazava Garments is a garment factory connected to the Winds Enterprises Group (manufacturing operations include plants in Madagascar and Haiti). Mazava is located in the town of Morogoro - about 180km inland from the Tanzania capital of Dar es Salaam. The firm exports significant volumes of garments (mainly made with man-made fiber fabrics (polyester)) to the United States using that country's African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA). For details on the factory SEE HERE >>.

Tooku Garments is a garment factory located in Dar es Salaam. The Chinese owned company specialises in the manufacture of jeans - but also has the capacity to make knit tops. It makes products for Levi Strauss and most of its garments are exported to the United States using the AGOA trade preference programme. For details of the factory SEE HERE >>.

A company to look out for in the future will be the textile and apparel operations of the METL group SEE HERE >>. The group already owns significant investments in the Tanzania textile industry (including some of the manufacturing equipment of the Mediterranean Textile Mills (a South African textile mill that closed in 2013)). It is now now embarking on developing a significant garment manufacturing capacity that will see it becoming a significant exporter.
NOTE: HS4 digit codes of insignificant value have been excluded. Harmonised System (HS) codes beginning with: "61" are garments made from knitted/crocheted fabrics; while those beginning with a "62" are garments made with woven fabrics.
United Republic of Tanzania: Cotton-to-Clothing Strategy 2016-2020”. Formulated by the Tanzania Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment - with the technical assistance of International Trade Centre (funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID)). Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 2016.

Synopsis: The sector’s strategic orientation should follow a four-pronged approach. Tanzania must first reorganise its cotton sector and build capacities so as to improve productivity and regain the quality reputation that it once enjoyed. In parallel, efforts can be made to further develop the apparel segment. Thirdly, the country should build on its prior successes and expand sales of mosquito nets in international markets (namely in Africa, India and South-East Asia), while at the same time pursuing growth in regional markets for kanga and kitenge. Where possible, existing textile units can also diversify into new products. Lastly, once both the cotton and apparel segments have been reinvigorated, stakeholders can pursue vertical integration and attract larger amounts of foreign direct investment (FDI) to the capital-intensive spinning and textile segments. The PoA responds to this vision by setting five strategic objectives to support its implementation.
  1. Raise the profitability of cotton production through increased productivity and quality control.
  2. Improve the policy environment to raise the efficiency and competitiveness of the Cotton to Clothing value chain.
  3. Improve the competitiveness of textile and clothing firms through raised productivity and product diversification.
  4. Strengthen the Tanzania’s focus on investment as a vector for growth and integration in the value chain.
  5. Strengthen the capacity of firms to diversify markets to raise profitability.
Full paper can be READ HERE >>

Tanzania Textiles and Garment Situational Analysis and Development Strategy”. Prepared by Salm / Dinsdale / MacDonald / Martelli / Hill / Kabissa. A study for the Tanzania Ministry of Trade & Industry, funded by the Tanzania Gatsby Trust. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. February 2012.

Synopsis: This value chain work was undertaken in order to design a textile and garment sector development strategy for Tanzania. The work was commissioned in recognition of the industry’s huge potential for pro-poor growth. This strategy was developed in close consultation with the Tanzanian government; the intention being that on acceptance, the Ministry of Industry & Trade (MIT) will implement it. The analysis was based on extensive field research into the textile and garment industry in November 2011. Over the course of this fieldwork, the team traveled throughout Tanzania, visiting industry clusters and centres. In total, 16 downstream manufacturing facilities were visited, and the owners of further facilities in Dar es Salaam. The team also visited ginning facilities, met with the chairs of both the Cotton Ginners' Association (CGA) and the Textile Manufacturers' Association (TEXMAT), and held meetings with many other stakeholders, from the Port Authorities, to utility and parastatal organisations. Secondary documents, policies and reports were also gathered and populated against the primary data.

NOTE – No copy of this strategy exists on the world-wide-web should you want a copy kindly write to – stating your email address; your name; and your organisation.
  • 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).

The appointee will, working with key stakeholders, diagnose the current situation of the factory and then design/execute a turnaround strategy. The work will include a corporate strategy diagnosis to identify where the factory can improve, and the development of subsequent courses of action to make the factory profitable in the long-term. For 3 months the appointee will diagnose problems and develop a strategy; in the following 9 months he/she will roll-out approved actions. The appointee may, with prior approval, hire additional experts. Deadline for applications is 15 June 2018. For full details contact:
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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