Photo: Courtesy

By SME Digital Correspondent

African fashion designers will showcase their designs to an estimated crowd of 3000 people at the 2017 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in India.

The attendees will get a feel of the flavor of the work of African creative stylists and catch a glimpse of beautifully dressed models who will walk the catwalk to show how African fabrics are inspiring more and more famous designers.

“Fashion is not just about design or inspiration. It’s also a multi-million dollar industry that creates millions of jobs, including in textile and clothing manufacturing,” says Emanuela Gregorio, a gender specialist at the AfDB.

Through its Fashionomics initiative, AfDB is supporting the development of creative industries that utilize products, especially cotton, in Africa.    Through this initiative, AfDB is promoting investments in the fashion sector, increasing access to finance for entrepreneurs and incubating and accelerating start-ups.

At a session on Creating Wealth through Fashonomics, experts and practitioners will discuss methods of promoting textile manufacturing in Africa -where many of the textile and clothing firms are small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It will also set agenda for how the involvement of African countries in the global textile industry could look like (from conception and design).

Drawing on its High-5 Agenda, the Bank is investing in high-growth sectors that have the potential to promote economic empowerment and create 25 million jobs over the next decade.

The Bank considers the creative industries as offering massive potential for continent-wide job and gross domestic product (GDP) growth. For instance, instead of exporting raw cotton, Africa needs to move to the top of the global value chain and produce garments targeted at the growing African and global consumer class.

The textile/clothing market is already worth more than Kshs3.1 trillion in Sub-Saharan Africa and accounts for the second largest number of jobs in developing countries after agriculture, many of whom are women and young people.

In Côte d’Ivoire, women own 80 percent of businesses in the industry and close to half of the entrepreneurs are under the age of 35. These are also mostly SMEs. Only 33 percent work with local suppliers.

In Ethiopia, a pioneer in the textile industry in the region with more than 40,000 employees, salaries are three times lower than in Côte d’Ivoire and the cost of electricity remains low due to the availability of hydropower, and inputs are affordably priced.

It is expected that the textile clothing industry could generate 400,000 jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa alone and exports could double in the next 10 years.

By combining a fashion show and panel discussion, the India Fashionomics session will use the global value chains in textiles to illustrate possibilities for African agriculture-related industrialization which are typically debated in the abstract.

The 2017 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group will be held on May 22-26, 2017 in Ahmedabad, India. This year’s Annual Meetings are focusing on Transforming Agriculture for Wealth Creation in Africa.

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