Multimillion-dollar local apparel industry lays dormant

Attempted prophesies: This whole thing began with textiles

…as China dominates the export market

Though the Ghanaian apparel industry is regarded as a major pathway to industrialisation, the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) has said low-cost high-volume competing apparel exports from China and other Asian countries in the global market continuously overwhelm Ghana’s exports.

The sector’s prospects are linked to the relative speed with which it can be set up and the large impact on employment-generation, especially in industrial settings.

Despite the numerous opportunities available to the industry in Ghana – including unexplored niches in the global market such as original woven Kente, diaspora market potentials; proximity to global apparel markets – Europe and America; and the existence of bilateral and regional trade agreements such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), inadequate promotion of Ghanaian textiles and Afrocentric fashion in mainstream apparel channels abroad remains a bane of the sector.

Currently, the industry employs more than 6,000 Ghanaians and exports more than US$30million on average annually. Export revenues from the sector in 2020, according to GEPA, stood at US$43million compared to the US$137.4billion worth of apparel and accessories that China alone exported last year to the US market.

But the GEPA, in its 10-year National Export Development Strategy for the non-traditional export sector, says its export revenue for 2021 is projected to reach US$52million by December.

The authority says it is currently reviewing financial positions of existing apparel companies in order to roll-out a funding package to service funding requirements of the industry.

GEPA indicated that it will also provide strong capacity building and funding support to upgrade members of the Ghana Association of Apparel Manufacturers to become a self-sustaining national industry. There are about 14 indigenous apparel manufacturers which predominantly export to the US under AGOA.

Divergently, Afrocentric products and garments – which fall under products of the creative arts industry, seem not to have been strongly prioritised by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MoTAC) in the last few years, and even currently.

Though Ghana has the potential for a thriving dynamic creative arts industry – from music, fashion, theatre to architecture, visual arts and design – strong emphasis is always placed on the development of talent in the music industry to the neglect of other niches.

However, GEPA believes a concerted effort and strategic partnerships with key industry players and institutions would significantly increase the sector’s prospects. Thus, the authority seeks to promote and support investments, including FDIs into the industry, with the production of accessories and intermediate products such as zips, thread, cotton and synthetic fabrics as part of key strategic interventions to further boost export trade revenues.   

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