Putting Africa’s textile industry on the global map

The African Cotton and Textile Industries Federation, (ACTIF) the voice of the textile industry in Africa, brings “Origin Africa” — a four-day event showcasing the best in Africa fashion, textiles, and accessories.  Its objective is to put Africa on the map as a preferred place to do business in the international textile and apparel industry.  Ethiopia is the heart of Origin Africa – celebrating the spirit, style and innovation that is modern Africa.

Now in its third year, Origin Africa 2012 will feature one of the largest and most comprehensive trade expos in Africa, with more than 60 exhibitors from Africa, the U.S, Europe,India and China covering the entire fiber/textile/apparel supply chain as well as the home decor and fashion accessories sector.  The Trade Expo is complemented by a world-class seminar series as well as the Origin Africa Designer Showcase, which features the best in African design talent.  The event will roll out from 24 – 27 April at the Sheraton Addis and the African Union Conference Center.

“We are thrilled to launch our first Origin Africa Trade Expo in Ethiopia,” says Skander Negasi of Trade and Fairs East Africa, the official representative of global trade fair giant Messe Frankfurt.  “Ethiopiais a dynamic market for the textile and apparel industry.  The Trade Expo offers a forum for buyers and sellers to come together under one roof to do business.”

Recognizing the important economic role that the fiber/ textile/apparel sector plays in the region, the Origin Africa Designer Showcase will be held in the new African Union Conference Center– the first of its kind commercial event in this world-class facility.

“The textiles and clothing industry in Africa can be important in economic and social terms in the short run by providing incomes, jobs and foreign currency receipts and in the long run by providing the opportunity for sustained economic development , ,” notes Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

Hundreds of delegates are expected to attend the event, along with buyers from U.S. and European retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, PPR Gucci, Redcats, Oakley, JC Penney, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Elis and Otto Versand, to name but a few. More than 20 international buyers are slated to visit the Trade Expo.

“Anyone in the textile and apparel sector in Africa cannot afford to miss this show. The opportunities to meet with regional suppliers and international buyers are unmatched,” says Barry Fisher, fiber/textile/apparel specialist from USAID’s Competitiveness and Trade Expansion program (USAID/COMPETE), one of the organizers of the event.  “Buyers are encouraged to ‘Write Your Orders in Africa,’ and we expect blockbuster business deals to take place during the conference.”

ACTIF has partnered with the Ethiopian Textile and Garments and Manufacturing Association (ETGAMA) and the Ethiopian Textile Industry Development Institute (TIDI) to bring the best Ethiopian firms to the expo.  ETGAMA and TIDI are the leading representatives of the textile and garment industry in Ethiopia.

ACTIF’s Executive Director Rajeev Arora observes that, “We have been pleased with the outstanding support and cooperation from our partners ETGAMA and TIDI.  They have helped put together a fine program that puts the spotlight on African innovation in textiles and design. We are certain that this will help put Africa on the map as a sourcing destination for the world’s apparel demands.”

A highlight of the week-long event is the Origin Africa Designer Showcase, to be held over two nights: April 24 and April 25. This year, ACTIF has partnered with Hub of Africa Fashion Week to present the Designer Showcase around the theme of eco-fashion.  Eco-fashion is part of a global design trend to use environmentally sensitive fabrics and production techniques.

Ethiopia’s Fikirte Addis won this event at the 2011 Origin Africa –Mauritius. With her win, Fikirte earned a chance to exhibit her collection, inspired by traditional Ethiopian cotton fabrics, at Africa Fashion Week New York.  Fikirte will join 34 other designers from around the continent including Kenya’s Kiko Romeo, Wambui Mukenyi, KIPUSA and the Association of Fashion Designers of Kenya ,Tanzania’s Jamila Vera Swa, Esakado Bird, Jose Rui Lopez and Doreen Mashika, andUganda’s SOLOME for this year’s event, at which designers will show how they are embracing sustainable and environmentally conscious manufacturing and design.

The Designer Showcase continues to gain global prestige and it will recognize top designers by awarding 3 prizes: the US Retailers Award, from OneStopPlus.com complete with a commercial supply contract; the Origin Africa Award, with participation at Africa Fashion Week New York; and the Ethical Fashion Award from Messe Frankfurt France, with participation at the Ethical Fashion Show in Paris.

“As the lion economy awakes, global investors know that it is time to start learning about Africa. Origin Africa represents a powerful trend in social entrepreneurship and empowerment and is helping to make Africa the new frontier for business,” says Fisher.

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