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Uganda’s textile industry is in limbo!

By Vision Reporter

Added 1st November 2005 03:00 AM

Letter of the day

SIR — I wish to respond to an article published on October 27, entitled, “Local cotton industry benefits little from AGOA”. The article gives the ordinary Ugandan the impression that the Cotton Development Organisation (CDO) and perhaps the Ministry of Trade and Indu

Letter of the day

SIR — I wish to respond to an article published on October 27, entitled, “Local cotton industry benefits little from AGOA”. The article gives the ordinary Ugandan the impression that the Cotton Development Organisation (CDO) and perhaps the Ministry of Trade and Indu

Letter of the day

SIR — I wish to respond to an article published on October 27, entitled, “Local cotton industry benefits little from AGOA”. The article gives the ordinary Ugandan the impression that the Cotton Development Organisation (CDO) and perhaps the Ministry of Trade and Industry are failing in their mandate to revive the local textile and clothing industry after all these years of privatisation and liberalised economy.

You cannot at this time in 2005 still talk about 95% of our cotton being exported raw! The figure should have come down by now.

This is completely unacceptable. It seems those responsible in government and at the CDO headquarters are sitting comfortably without thinking seriously about the future of this country as far as the textile and clothing industry is concerned. Maybe this is not one of their terms of reference.

There is nothing organised which is aimed at reviving this very important and vital industry. I am sorry to say that the textile and clothing industry has been the most neglected sector of the economy in this country in terms of local investment and government intervention.

Private investors, we are told, have been hesitant to invest large sums of money given the challenges of producing textiles in and exporting them out of Uganda. What are these challenges and are they impossible to address?

It seems the government has no goodwill to tackle these challenges or those who are involved in the cotton sub-sector at all levels are either incompetent or lack the technical know-how to understand the workings and dynamics of this type of industry. Fifteen years or so down the road, not even the smallest textile unit can be seen to be operating at a local level by Ugandans!

We are told Tri-Star is an export bonded warehouse which means imported fabric comes directly to the factory and is exported directly from here. This arrangement cannot be sustained for a long time under the current AGOA rules and therefore, soon or later, this company will close. Then what next? What is the government doing to ensure that there is sustainability in the local textile and clothing sector even after AGOA is no more?

This country lacks a clear policy on textiles and it is high time we went beyond CDO which in all ways operates like the defunct Lint Marketing Board and therefore will not deliver anything new as far as the revival of the local textile and clothing industry is concerned.

We need a new strategy and thinking in order to address this imbalance in the economy of Uganda. Let me suggest that the government creates a powerful and well- staffed department of textiles in the Ministry of Trade and Industry to plan and advise the government on how the textile industry can be revived.

And if it is possible and I know many other developing countries have done it, create a Ministry of Textiles with a full minister in charge. Alternatively, begin with a minister of state in charge of textiles and clothing, who should have a basic qualification in textiles.

At Kyambogo University, we have introduced a new degree programme of Bachelor of Science in Textile and Clothing Technology. We also have a two-year diploma programme in Textile Design and Technology. There are several other textile courses being taught at the university. The purpose of all these efforts is to see to it that this country gets a pool of qualified technical personnel to run the local industry, do research and play a regional role in the development of a strong and vibrant industry in the years to come.

Aaron Wanyama
Senior Lecturer/Textile Technologist
Kyambogo University

Uganda’s textile industry is in limbo!

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