Business and Finance

Textile industry potential crippled by low funds, policy hurdles

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Efforts to revive Uganda’s textile industry continues to stall, leading to the loss of about Shs500 billion in the exportation of unprocessed cotton.

Uganda exports at least 95 per cent of its cotton as lint (primary form as lint) as value addition continues to elude the industry due to a delayed implementation of the National Textile Policy.

The National Textile Policy was formulated in 2009, debated and passed, however the implementation of the policy continues to be one of the industry’s biggest challenges.

“The policy implementation intended to put in place various blocks through which the sector would develop. All these were agreed on at Cabinet level but one wonders why there seems to be reluctance in terms of implementation,” says the Uganda Textiles and Garment Manufacturers Association, secretary general.

Mr Samuel Ssenkungu, the director in charge of Trade Industry and Cooperatives at the Ministry of Trade believes that some of the major reasons hindering the policy’s implementation is the lack of funds.

“The policy suggests that all government primary schools in the country must buy uniforms produced within the country, however this has since stalled, he says.

He adds: “The biggest challenge is transferring the policy recommendations to respective ministries during the budgetary formulation process.”

In the last five years, Uganda has registered a production of 254,000 with each bale weighing 185 kilogrammes compared to 15,000 kilogrammes produced during the same period.

This, according to experts clearly represents some good potential for Uganda’s cotton industry although there is still lack of value addition.

Less than 10 per cent of Uganda’s annual out-put is processed locally and 90 per cent is exported.

Available information indicates that there is adequate ginning capacity, which has increased from 100,000 bales to 1,000,000.

The Cotton Development Organisation (CDO), a statutory body, which regulates and promotes the cotton industry in Uganda, continues to strive to revive the pre-1972 annual production levels of about 500,000 bales per annum.

Standing at about 33 million, about 180 million meters of cloth are required per annum at the per capita average of six meters to dress Ugandans.

This, according to statistics translates into a market average of over Shs350 billion annually.

The National Textile Policy says with an East African population of 120 million people, the region has a market potential of that can consume 820 million meters of cloth per annum, generating about ShsShs1.4 trillion.

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