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Business

Will new federation improve the fortunes of textiles industry?

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Africa currently produces 12 per cent of the world’s cotton. Photo/FILE

Africa currently produces 12 per cent of the world’s cotton. Photo/FILE  

By SCOLA KAMAU

Posted  Monday, May 3   2010 at  00:00

The launch of the African Cotton Industries Federation (ACTIF) in Nairobi by 23 trade associations from 18 African countries has brought high expectations to the industry that pressing problems of production, processing and marketing will finally be addressed.

The federation is the first pan-African cotton body and is meant to translate the disparate policies of the cotton, textile and apparel sectors into cohesive positions at regional and international trade development forums.

Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are among the 18 member countries of ACTIF.

The organisation will also promote the industry as a major revenue earner in East Africa and the continent.

Africa currently produces 12 per cent of the world’s cotton but more than 95 per cent of it is sold either to other countries in the continent or outside before it is processed.

The remaining 5 per cent is processed within the growing countries.

A value added strategy in Africa would give the industry a boost, which is what ACTIF advocates for.

The federation aims at creating a unified voice in both regional and global trade affairs to provide effective regional representation at international fora, build co-operation, interaction, linkages, and promote inter-regional trade.

This includes further negotiations with the US on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) to ensure its continuation in Africa to secure investment in the entire value chain, maintain existing buyers and attract new markets.

According to ACTIF chairman Jaswinder Bedi, Agoa’s 2015 deadline to wind up the initiative should be pushed forward to enable the business continue.

“We want Agoa to be more permanent to safeguard Africa’s market,” said Mr Bedi.

He said a crisis could hit Agoa-eligible countries, with buyers looking elsewhere for apparel.

According to the Global and Regional Trends in Textile Fibre Consumption, March 2010 edition, Asia was by far the largest consumer of fibres in 2008, having accounted for 73.2 per cent of global usage, while Africa was ranked seventh and Oceania and Central America trailing with 1.5 per cent and 0.1 per cent respectively.

In Africa, fibre consumption fell by a marginal 0.5 per cent in 2008.

The result was an 11 per cent rise in man-made fibre consumption, offset by a 10.6 per cent drop in cotton production.

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