It is time for Africa: Opportunities for Indian Investors in African Textile and Leather Markets

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Hon. Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, greeting Ms Jolly Sabune, MD of Uganda's Cotton Development Organization.

By Vandana Prakash Nair

  • SITA featured at the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI) Global Textiles Conclave (27-28 November) as well as the Council for Leather Exports (CLE) Export Awards and Leather Conclave (29 November), both held in New Delhi, India.
  • Ms Jolly Sabune, MD of Uganda’s Cotton Development Organization participated at the Global Textiles Conclave, where she was able to engage with members of the Indian textile industry.
  • SITA highlighted specific investment opportunities in Africa at both events, encouraging Indian investors to seize these opportunities now.

If there were ever a time to invest in East Africa, that time is now. This is the message that SITA strove to convey at two recent sector conclaves in New Delhi, India.

At the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI)’s Global Textiles Conclave held on 27th and 28th November, SITA facilitated the participation of Ms Jolly Sabune, Managing Director of Uganda’s Cotton Development Organization (CDO). Ms Sabune used the opportunity to network with Indian textile businesses across the textile and apparel value chain, and even had a meet and greet with the Honourable Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, who attended the conclave as its Chief Guest.

Dignitaries at CITI Global Textiles Conclave. From left to right: The Hon’ble Union Minister of Textiles Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Hon’ble Vice President of India Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Mr Sanjay K. Jain, Chairman of CITI.

The Global Textiles Conclave convened a series of panels on topics relevant to the textiles sector. SITA Coordinator Mr Govind Venuprasad was a panellist at ‘Disrupting Paradigms, and Reimagining Textiles Supply Chains to Make Them Future Ready’. Mr Venuprasad presented investment opportunities in the East African textile and apparel sector, particularly highlighting free trade agreements such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Everything But Arms (EBA);  as well as  Africa’s demographic dividend projected to reach 1.4 billion by 2030, of which 840 million people will be  below the age of 30. In Mr Venuprasad’s words:  ‘If your market is the world, go to Africa.’

SITA made a similar appeal to leather businesses attending the Council for Leather Export (CLE)’s Export Awards and Leather conclave held on 29th November. In his inaugural address, Shri Suresh Prabhu, India’s Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, exhorted the gathered members of the Indian leather community to develop a common strategy to seize regional and international business opportunities.

SITA Coordinator Mr Govind Venuprasad speaking at the CLE Export Awards and Leather Conclave.

Following the same theme, four international speakers addressed topics ranging from the global footwear market to latest trends in sustainability in the leather industry.  In his presentation on ‘Leather Sector business opportunities in Africa,’ Mr  Venuprasad highlighted specific opportunities in Africa’s leather sector, pointing to a recent investment in East Africa by an Indian SME, the Ambur-based Hurera Leather company, which established Uganda’s first ever shoe manufacturing unit in Kampala Industrial and Business Park. Again, the region’s rapidly growing population will boost the potential of the footwear industry on the continent, supported by commitments by African governments to develop and add value to their countries’ leather sectors. By waiting too long to invest or trade with Africa, Indian leather businesses risk losing the first-mover advantage to international competitors.

The message that SITA drove home to textile and leather businesses in New Delhi was loud and clear: It is time to invest in Africa.

Voices of SITA
Voices of SITA
This blog provides a window into the SITA project. Through stories from India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, this blog showcases the project’s progress and impact.