October 17—The Second East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference & Exhibition set to take place between November 14th and 16th in Dar es Salaam, is expected to discuss how to create synergies and links between the local cotton and textile industries with local suppliers and fashion designers to make it more internationally competitive.
Lilian Awinja, the East African Business Council (EABC) CEO said early this week, “Value addition in the cotton and textile industry into innovative aesthetic accessories, interior designs and fashion can create more jobs opportunities in the East African Community as only 15% of EAC cotton is processed locally, while 85% is exported in form of lint to other countries.”
The plan is to propose an action plan outlining the policies and modalities to promote the sector performance, productivity and quality. The high export of cotton in form of lint to other countries can be turned in to a raw material base for textile and apparel manufacturing in the region.
“As the region works on a phase out approach of imported second hand clothes, it is a high time that EAC countries embarked on manufacturing affordable, attractive, locally sourced, quality apparels,” Awinja said. There is a tentative plan to phase out imports of second hand clothing and footwear across the region by 2019.
The EABC is the apex advocacy body of business associations of the private sector and corporates from the East African countries. It was established in 1997 to foster their interests in the EAC integration process.
Alongside the conference, a gala dinner and fashion show will be held to showcase the variety of designs in the region and encourage the people of East Africa to proudly consume local products so as to strengthen the creation of local value chains. Awinja said, “The African fashion and design industry has already moved into the spotlight on the international market.”
Key fashion and textiles industry players such as Sunny Dolat from HEVA Fund and Mustafa Hassanali, Swahili Fashion Week are expected to discuss on building synergies between the local cotton and textile industry to the untapped markets in the region.
The conference will also host session highlights on Information Communication Technology, Urbanization, Cotton and Textile, Patents and Copyrights in the Creative Industry, Trade and Gender, Health, agri-business, E-Commerce plus a “Start-up Corner” in bid to boost entrepreneurship and attract investments in the region. In addition, the East African Diaspora will be strongly engaged to amplify investment into the region. The simultaneous exhibition will give participants the possibility to present themselves and serve as points of contact for their organizations and businesses.