Trade in Used Clothing in Africa – implications for developing a textile and clothing regional value chain in Africa
The textile and clothing industry in Africa has been identified as one of the sectors that has the potential to drive Africa’s industrialisation and create employment opportunities across the value chain. Estimates show that up to 600% of value can be created along the cotton value chain: from cotton production, spinning and twisting into yarn, to weaving and knitting into fabric, followed by dying, printing, and designing. Despite the potential the sector exhibits, it is important to note that over the past decade, this sector has been on a decline due to competition from mostly low-cost Asian producers.
The high prevalence of poverty has also led to a growing demand for used clothing (UC), which has become a thriving business in several countries in Africa, most notably in East, West, and Southern Africa. African countries over the years have tried to contain the influx of UC into their domestic markets through levying high tariffs and in certain instances outright bans on used clothing imports. It is undeniable that trade in UC is big business and currently, Africa is the biggest market for UC. It is against this background that this trade brief provides an update on Africa’s trade in UC for the review period 2016-2020.
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