23 Feb Hope for Ghana’s Textile Industry
Do consumers prefer locally made textile to imported ones or vice versa, and what accounts for this choice? A recent study (2011) using survey data of industry, traders and consumers revealed an interesting and surprising fact; Ghanaians prefer locally produced textiles. This not only bucks the trend of Africans in general, and Ghanaians in particular, preferring imported goods, it also shows the Ghanaian government is missing an important trick.
The decline in Ghana’s manufacturing industry is well documented. Ghana’s textile industry as a subsector is an important factor in this decline. However, given the research clearly shows Ghanaians prefer local textile products, this is troubling, ironic and most disappointingly of all, could have been avoided.
Having said that, however, this writer has no interest in lamenting the past, but visualising the future. Even as recently as 2011, the world was quite a different place. Two major developments have changed the commercial and social landscapes in West Africa and the wider world since then; the rise of social media, and sustained and growing interest in authentic and novel international goods.
Savvy entrepreneurs have taken advantage of both of these trends to exploit markets, access to which would have been unimaginable just a few short years ago. The likes of the BBC World Service and CNN regularly feature young African movers and shakers making their mark in global markets, selling everything from art to ideas.
This positive scenario provides hope for a moribund industry. African fabrics have been hot in the fashion world for some years now, and if anything, this cultural force is increasing. This, coupled with the increasing consumer demand for authenticity and novelty mentioned above, means there is an unprecedented open goal for Africa’s textile makers to aim their wares at.
So, there is hope for Ghana’s textile industry then. Imagine every public servant clad in “made in Ghana” textiles–every child in school uniform, every doctor, nurse, or member of parliament, supporting their ‘homegrown’ textile industry. Imagine that, and the rising employment and economic growth it would bring.
After all, given African cloth and clothing are cool, how much cooler can they be when they have the inimitable cachet of being really Made in Africa?