Cotton is the most widely used raw material for global textile production and the livelihood of millions of people in Africa. In East African Ethiopia, cotton is both farmed and manufactured into textiles for international trade. Rather than merely exporting this “white gold”, the country invests in the development of the entire textile value chain. This development is pursued by the international textile industry with great interest and was also at the top of the agenda at this year’s Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) and the COMPACI Stakeholder Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The host country of this year’s CmiA and COMPACI Stakeholder Conference was Ethiopia, which since this year numbers among the Cotton made in Africa cotton-farming countries and, according to McKinsey, is a textile production location with a high potential for growth. Tadesse Haile, State Minister for Industry in Ethiopia, opened the meeting. In his speech, he made reference to the impressive collaboration of Cotton made in Africa and COMPACI with thousands of smallholder cotton farmers throughout Africa who are creating an indispensable foundation for the development of the growing cotton industry. In his speech, Jaswinder Bedi, Managing Director of African Cotton and Textiles Industries Federation (ACTIF), also emphasized the immense significance that the development of the textile value chains has in Africa, since it gives millions of people job opportunities and thus prevents social disasters that would force people to flee to Europe.
The efforts of CmiA and COMPACI to continuously improve environmental protection and promote small farming families who are at the bottom of the textile chain and for whom CmiA and COMPACI are campaigning in the context of growing textile production have been lively debated. In particular, activities to promote women and the use of bio-pesticides were discussed. Another topic was the development of the Farmer Business Schools that convey basic business concepts to the CmiA smallholder farmers and promote their economic autonomy.
The conference day was complemented by visiting AYKA ADDIS Textile & Investment Group PLC, a vertically integrated textile production plant, and Kanoria Africa Textiles PLC, a manufacturer of Jeans fabrics. Both companies are dedicated to protecting the environment and maintaining social standards. For both companies, the raw material Cotton made in Africa plays an important role. Tina Stridde, Managing Director of Cotton made in Africa, sums up: “We are pleased, with CmiA in Ethiopia, to supply the basis for a textile industry in which sustainability plays a crucial role from the fields all the way to the product. This can contribute to better value creation in Ethiopia and help millions of people gain employment and prosperity.”