The African Continental Free Trade Area, which took effect in May, is expected to boost economic growth in the continent by cutting tariffs among member states. Lower costs for trade means more trade, which boosts demand, sales and jobs. Demand from a stronger textile industry helps cotton farmers and also helps other businesses expand and develop.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s apparel and footwear market is already worth $31 billion. Sizable growth in the sector is expected over the next decade. The next decade could see the continent become a substantial player in global sourcing. Betting on growth, Kenya revived and equipped its biggest textile factory, Rivatex, in June, hoping to create 9,000 jobs at the facility.
However, the continent’s industries have to improve if they are to grab a share of the growing fashion and textile market. Africa has to have its own industrial capacity to be able to take advantage of a $3.3 trillion market with the African Continental Free Trade Area, so Africa has to industrialize. Industrialization is critical. It is not just about moving raw materials. It is value-added products. Boosting the textile industry is one step toward connecting 1.3 billion people across 54 nations and heating up commerce across the continent.