source: Monitor. By Michael Wakabi
Uganda is crafting a new strategy to revamp its cotton, textiles and apparel sector as part of efforts to tap into the booming global textiles and apparels market.
The plans dovetail with similar efforts to refocus the under-exploited opportunity presented by the US-sponsored African Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa) where Uganda’s earnings have been modest. Although Agoa represents a huge opportunity for Uganda, its prospects in the past have been hampered by a number of policy and market issues. Exports have been dominated by low volume products such as handicrafts and interior décor.
While her neighbours such as Ethiopia and Kenya have on average earned between $221.5 million and $436.5 million annually from Agoa exports during the decade to 2017, Uganda’s fortunes have been more muted. Average annual earnings under the scheme averaged just $56 million over the same period with CTA exports contributing zero to those numbers.
According to figures shared by Msingi East Africa during a recent Uganda CTA strategy development meeting organised by the National Planning Authority, the global apparel manufacturing market was worth $785.9 billion in 2018. But Uganda CTA earnings totalled just $22 million of that with the European Union being the main destination of Uganda’s product. Lint dominated and only 12 per cent of the 37,000 tonnes of cotton lint that Uganda produced during the 2017/18 season was consumed locally.
Uganda is known for growing the best cotton in sub-Saharan Africa but production has struggled from a high of 470,000 bales in 1969 to 208,662 bales the Cotton Development Organisation CDO, says were produced during the 2017/18 season.
Now, the government has identified CTA as a priority sector for development given its high potential for value addition, foreign investment and job creation. The cotton, apparel and textile sector ranks high among priorities under the third edition of the National Development Plan that is scheduled for launch later this year. Over the coming months, a comprehensive sector development strategy for the cotton value chain will be developed.