The East Africa Community (EAC) States will have to embark on manufacturing apparels such as inner garments, ties, scarfs that required low level technology and skills as the region works on a phase out approach of imported second hand clothes.

The high export of cotton in form of lint to other countries can be turned into a raw material base for textile and apparel manufacturing in the region.

In a press release issued ahead of East Africa Business and Entrepreneurship Conference in Tanzania in November,  the East African Business Council Chief Executive (CEO) Lilian Awinja said competitiveness of cotton industry in EAC was faced by challenges such as low yields, ginning overcapacity, low ginning out-turn ratio and inefficient value addition.

“Value addition in the cotton and textile industry into innovative aesthetic accessories, interior designs and fashion can create more jobs opportunities in the EAC, as only 15 percent of the region’s cotton is processed locally, while 85 percent is exported in form of lint to other countries,” said Awinja.

She explained that the upcoming 2nd East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference & Exhibition would provide a platform to create synergies and links between the local cotton and textile industries with local suppliers and fashion designers in bid to propose an action plan outlining the policies and modalities to promote the sector performance, productivity and quality.

“There is a huge opportunity for the African fashion and design industry to be in the spotlight on the international market,” the CEO said

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Cotton production, processing and trade, she added, is highly influenced by policies of major producing countries, through price support, tariff protection, production subsidies and stock piling that destabilize cotton prices.

Awinja said the conference would host session highlights on Information Communication Technology (ICT), urbanisation, 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.

Related: Emmah Amoni: Mtumba dealer turned fashion designer
 In addition, the East African Diaspora, would be strongly engaged to amplify investment into the region.

The simultaneous exhibition would give participants the possibility to present themselves and serve as points of contact for their organizations and businesses.

Alongside the conference, a gala dinner and fashion show would be held to encourage the people of East Africa to proudly consume local products so as to strengthen the creation of local value chains.

The 1st East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference and Exhibition was held in 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya and attracted more than 300 participants from 14 countries.

The East African Business Council (EABC) is the apex advocacy body of business associations in the private sector and corporates from the East African countries.

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