West Africa is the perfect landscape to shape a textile and garments industry from the start and create best ethical practices – a bold statement, maybe, but one which is very likely to come true in the future.
The textile industry in Africa is already booming, for example in Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso.
Nigeria’s textile and apparel industry covers the entire clothing value chain and has a strong potential for growth due to the availability of cotton and the country’s large market size represented by over 170 million inhabitants. Nigeria used to be a major exporter of garments to the West Africa region in the past.
Enabling environments for cotton
Cotton is one of the crops that have been cultivated in Côte d’Ivoire for decades. In the last 8 years, the cultivation rate of cotton has doubled, pushing Cote d’Ivoire to one of the strongest players in cotton among other West African Countries. The growth of the cotton industry has been brought to reality by strong private sector participation, effective government policies, and an empowering environment for cotton producers.
Another strong player in producing cotton is Burkina Faso. Cotton export revenues have provided Burkina Faso with a stable source of foreign currency that has accelerated economic development in other sectors. The focus on improving the cotton value chain in Burkina Faso will further improve other sectors of the economy and provide more employment opportunities for women and young people, especially in cotton oil processing, which is often neglected.
These are only a few cases, of course. Another encouraging fact is that most West African countries are eligible for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This deal was enacted by the US Congress in 2000 and enabled Africa to export its textiles duty-free to the US. The AGOA beneficiary countries’ exports reached more than $1400 million by 2019. In 2017, the US’s direct investment in Africa in textile manufacturing stood at around $50 billion. In other words: promising perspectives!