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The buzz around Africa as the next major sourcing destination has been palpable of late, especially in light of the recent 10 year extension of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA). While interest has indeed been on the upswing in recent months, so too have the questions about Africa's readiness to assume this status. WRAP's Clay Hickson, Senior Director of Strategy and Business Development, recently travelled to Tanzania, where he got an opportunity to meet with factory owners in the country and talk to them about social compliance.
Why did you travel to Tanzania?
WRAP was invited to Tanzania by the Ministry of Industry and Trade as part of a project funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation to provide information to apparel and textile production facilities on the importance of social compliance and how demonstration of adherence to internationally-accepted compliance principles, like those of WRAP, can be a competitive advantage in the global marketplace, thus helping support economic development in the country.
|Meeting with a factory actively preparing to apply for WRAP Certification.|
Why is WRAP interested in Tanzania?
Even though the garment industry in Tanzania is very small at present, the current environment offers it opportunities for expansion, particularly as more and more international buyers seek to diversify the countries from which they source. WRAP is committed to being a responsive and effective social compliance management partner in all corners of the world.
|The message of social compliance and WRAP seemed to be well recieved.|
Who did you meet with?
The central event was a roundtable meeting of industry leaders which included representatives from the government as well as NGOs. I was the keynote speaker, addressing the history of social compliance, why compliance and sustainability matter from a business perspective, and providing an overview of WRAP's 12 Principles and our programs. I also visited six textile and apparel facilities located all across the country, providing senior and middle management with an understanding of social compliance and touring their facilities with the aim of sharing suggestions with them that will help them implement better social compliance practices as they strive to become more competitive in the global economy, particularly to take advantage of AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act).
|Meeting with a factory owner.|
Where did you travel within Tanzania?
Events were held all across the country, particularly in Tanzania’s largest city Dar es Salaam, but my travels also took me to the cities of Morogoro, Mwanza (on the Shores of Lake Victoria, the world’s largest fresh water lake), and Arusha (in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain).
|One of my souveniers from the trip.|
What was your impression of Tanzania's garment industry?
Tanzania’s textile and apparel industry is still relatively small, but there are a handful of facilities that already are exporting to the US and several more that soon will be ready to make the leap from solely supplying the domestic market to exporting. In addition, Tanzania is the largest cotton producer in East Africa and has seven major export processing zones (EPZs) with a new showcase apparel cluster zone coming soon that will help the industry accelerate development.
|Meeting with the CEO of a textile mill.|