Kenyan textile firm opens Sh5.7bn plant in Zanzibar


Garments manufactures at a past trade exhibition. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya’s firm Basra Textiles Ltd is setting up a Sh5.7 billion ($51.3 million) factory in Zanzibar as it targets to get a pie of the regions clothes market.

It is hoped that the factory, which was launched by President Samia Suluhu Hassan this week, will give a new impetus to Tanzania’s textile industry, which has the potential to become a significant sourcing location for foreign buyers.

With the factory at Chunguni area in Zanzibar, Basra Textiles is targeting export markets across East and Central Africa, its company chief executive officer, Ahmed Othman, said on Tuesday.

The global textile industry was estimated at around $920 billion in 2018, and it was projected to reach approximately $1,230 billion by 2024, available global data show.

Tanzania, which also enjoys duty-free market access to the United States through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) as well as to the European Union, is unfortunately importing most of its textile requirements mainly from China, India, Pakistan and Korea among others, official data show.

The country’s few locally-processed fabrics (Kitenge and Kanga) are used by domestic users and exported to neighbouring countries of Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as to China.

Thus, with Agoa and EU arrangements, Basra Textiles Lis also seriously eying the EU and the US markets.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which officially came into effect on January 1, this year, also offers new markets for Basra Textiles.

This is because apart from facilitating the movement of capital and people, and taking steps to create an Africa-wide Customs union, the AfCFTA also compels member states to slash 90 percent of tariffs on goods traded within the area.

Mr Othman said the factory will be implemented in three phases whereby upon its completion by 2024, it would provide direct employment to a total of 1,600 people.

“It will produce 250,000 metres of polyester per day, translating into seven million metres per month,” he said.

He said apart from Khanga and Kitenge, the company will also produce bedding among others.

“We target to sell our products in the US, EAC, Central Africa and Europe,” he said.

He said the first phase involves maintenance and repairing of buildings as well as installation of machinery while the second phase was to buy cotton and later produce fabric.

The third phase will involve the construction of a tailoring factory and the fixing of 500 tailoring machines.

It is at that phase that production of clothes will start and the number of jobs created by the factory will rise, Mr Othman said.