Why EA leather, textile sectors suffer from low market access
Lewis Njoka @LewisNjoka
Kenya is among East African countries whose textile and leather industry players could miss out on lucrative international opportunities due to poor understanding of steps to comply with environmental standards.
A report by Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA) says that policy makers and manufacturers find it difficult to align local legislation with international standards due to information asymmetry.
“For East African businesses, being unable to comply with these standards creates a risk of being left out of global supply chains and represents a high cost in missed export market opportunities,” reads the report in part.
“It is thus of paramount importance, both environmentally and economically, to empower East African businesses in improving compliance,” it adds.
Even when there is a fair understanding of the sustainability requirements from global brands, poor access to finance and inadequate technical capacity thwart better compliance, it said.
Leather and textiles make up a significant portion of the goods Kenya exports to the US under the Agoa agreement. As of March, Kenya had exported to the US leather and textile worth Sh11.1 billion.
Currently, international leather and textile value chains are driving the efforts towards going green by requiring that their suppliers adhere to internationally agreed standards on wastewater and chemical management.
“International buyers agree that, for most suppliers in their supply chains in developing countries, a big bottleneck is the lack of comprehensive information on what standards are required, and where they fall short,” reads the report in part.
The report identified infrastructural bottlenecks, poor access to finance, capacity constraints and inadequate implementation of existing environmental regulations as some of the factors that have compounded the problem of attaining sustainable value chains East Africa.
It recommended building of integrated industrial parks, incentivizing common effluent treatment plants, and the accreditation of waste disposal sites as some of the measures to improve sustainability in the sector.