Though there are only 12 Japanese firms in Ethiopia (as of October 2017) compared to 282 in South Africa, Japan has been lately putting efforts to promote textile industry in Ethiopia.
With wages shooting up in Asian hubs like Myanmar, many countries are realising that Ethiopia could be the alternative production base to Asian countries and Japan is one of the firsts to have understood the potential of Ethiopia.
Japanese trading firm Itochu is one such company that has now signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ethiopian Textile Industry Development Institute with the objective of promoting the textile industry.
Itochu will dispatch its own employees in addition to 5 outside Japanese experts to two factories in northern Ethiopia’s Tigre region. These factories will manufacture apparels for export to Japan.
Utilising the experience of working in countries like Myanmar and Vietnam, Itochu plans to increase Ethiopia’s manufacturing efficiency by fivefolds in next 3 years.
And how are they going to do it!
- Reviewing production processes
- Reviewing labour management
- Technology upgradation
Itochu feels that the aforementioned steps are necessary to enhance productivity as on average an Ethiopian worker produces just 1/10th of garments that a Chinese produces in a said time, mainly owing to better working process and advanced technology available in China.
Fast Retailing that owns Uniqlo also recently opened a unit in Ethiopia and quite a few others are planning to open more factories in the country.
The Tokyo International Conference on African Development, coming up in Yokohama later this month, is further expected to help Japan in stepping up its efforts to promote the industry in Ethiopia.