Made In Ethiopia: Sourcing Hub with Major Ambitions

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Although months away, make a note now that the third edition of Africa Sourcing & Fashion Week will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia starting October 3, 2017 at Millennium Hall. Africa Sourcing & Fashion Week is the pre-eminent trade show for textiles, apparel, and home goods within the continent.

Velocity Apparel / Photo Courtesy of Ethiogrio

Velocity Apparel / Photo Courtesy of Ethiogrio

The world's largest trade fair organizer Messe Frankfurt will debut three of its trade show brands TexProcess, Apparel Sourcing, and TexWorld during the four-day showcase that will also incorporate a lecture series and multi-brand fashion presentation. Over 250 international exhibitors from 25 countries including Turkey, India, United Arab Emirates, and Italy will present their latest innovations to trade professionals and representatives from around the world. African exhibitors include Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe among others.

Ethiopia has a significant advantage in terms of apparel and footwear manufacturing due to its government's commitment to industrialize the sector. Factories in Addis Ababa already produce clothing and/or footwear for J. Crew, Guess, and Tommy Hilfiger among other US and European brands. The national directive and investment has empowered factories, such as Velocity Apparel and Desta, to establish relationships with these brands as labor costs in Asian markets become less competitive. Velocity, a manufacturing hub based in Mekelle that not only constructs designer denim and knitwear garments, but also constructs the cardboard boxes those garments are shipped in, is poised to become the biggest factory in Africa due to its size and advanced technology. The brainchild of investor Siddarth Sinha, who has built similar factories in Egypt and India, Velocity is designed to drive economic growth in the textile and manufacturing industry. Highly sustainable, the entire factory employs a fully automated conveyor system, wind power, LED lighting, and its own water treatment facilities. With most of its workforce consisting of women, Velocity plans to create between 8,000 and 10,000 jobs in Ethiopia over the next five years. 

With shifting sourcing preferences and long-standing trade agreements such as the African Growth & Opportunity Act, Ethiopia stands to benefit from expanding demand from US and European apparel and footwear brands. Africa Sourcing & Fashion Week is a vital trading conference to highlight high-quality production and textile development from African countries.