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2020: Africa staring at lost jobs as pandemic rages on

Dec 24, 2020
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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected garment workers in countries like Kenya and Ethiopia, which are turning into garment manufacturing hubs in the African continent. The year that was also saw the number of nations growing genetically-modified (GM) cotton in Africa doubling since 2018, while some countries like South Africa took steps to boost domestic production.

In Kenya, more than 100 apparel manufacturers temporarily closed due to the pandemic, sending hundreds of workers home because of a decline in demand in export markets, primarily in the US, writes assistant editor Dipesh Satapathy in the January 2021 edition of Fibre2Fashion as he looks back at the year that was. At least 30,000 direct jobs had been lost in the sector by June, data by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance indicates.

Several Egyptian clothing units have halved production, while many others have stopped production altogether due to the pandemic’s impact, according to the Readymade Garments Chamber, which said the dramatic slowdown is due to a projected decline in market demand for the Fall season. A massive overstock of summer clothing sat for months in factories. Egyptian factories hardly sold 30 per cent of their summer season stock between July and September.

At the start of the pandemic, textiles and garment factories in Ethiopia’s industrial parks employed 95,000 people, with women accounting for 70 per cent of these. The country’s Jobs Creation Commission estimates that between 1.4 million and 2.5 million jobs could be lost nationwide in the three months beginning November if safety nets are not put in place.

Meanwhile, a strong focus of South Africa’s clothing, footwear, textiles and leather (CFTL) sector in 2020 was domestic production boost. Stakeholders across the value-chain in the CTFL industry in September vowed to work closely to identify and execute on opportunities to deepen localisation and bolster production.

Subscribe now to read the complete article in the much-awaited January 2021 print edition of Fibre2Fashion

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (RKS)

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