By Elias Hakizimana.
Rwanda textile industries are yet to satisfy local market at even a quarter of the country, which has pushed the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) to think on giving a boost to local tailors so that they move towards industry producing model.
Kampeta Pitchette Sayinzoga, NIRDA Director General said this requires gathering together the tailors to help them in teams.
“We are gathering them together to see how we can move from small textile profession (atelier/workshops) to bigger industries. We try to help them and involve them to partner with us, and, as you know, the government is moving to ban second hand clothes, that requires having a strong local textile production,” said Kampeta.
She said however that entrepreneurs in textiles have made a step in boosting the sector comparing to the last five years.
“Today there are many varieties of clothes that are locally-made such as t-shirts and other clothes but also still there are many second hand clothes Rwandans are wearing, which do not give us value. We want that every Rwandan puts on at least two new clothes per a month, it means 24 clothes per year. But, the tailors we have, have not yet attained that level, what we wish is that they can satisfy Rwanda’s market and it is possible,” said Kampeta.
Bridging quality and price gaps
Kampeta said that the most thing raising the price is the source of raw materials as textiles are imported at high cost.
“We advise them to order textiles together as a team to reduce the cost. The issue of quality is not also for all tailors, some of them make quality clothes, what they need is skills to work in a way of patterns, embroidery and it is a knowledge, it is something we can handle. So, we want to partner with them to give them such a knowledge, and we need them to be together so that we raise the quality of Made-in-Rwanda products,” she noted.
She said that the government has achieved more in cutting the journey to ban second hand clothes like tax waving on textiles and other kits, import duty and VAT.
Kampeta also said that having them gathered in cooperatives is another intervention the government has done to be able to give them skills together.
“And us, NIRDA, we are going to make another step to help them find equipment and access to high quality skills to be the right industry textile producers. We are seeing a hope basing on the step made so far, but still the journey is long,” she said.
She said that banning second hand clothes has two main reasons including lack of quality for Rwandan’s value, the second is to create jobs for many youths who are unemployed due to unfair competition but with the initiative, many youths and women will find jobs.
Silk cocoons contribution
Kampeta said that sericulture sector that is producing silk cocoons in Rwanda will be a very significant input in availing raw materials. “and we wish in this regard that tailors can use locally made raw materials as they are still being imported. So, the silk factory can give inputs for local textile industries at the same time contributing to the exports,” she said.
Last year, one of Rwanda’s textile companies exported clothes on $1.6 million according to Kampeta. She added that despites the progress made, Rwanda is not even yet to satisfy the quarter of the whole market.
“We need to produce to 85 million tonnes of meters of garments and it will be a good achievement when we attain to this number,” said Kampeta.
Local tailors speak out
Gloria Kamanzi Uwizera, a local tailor who owns a company called ‘Grow Creations’ of designers and tailors of different clothes and textiles said currently since ten years of operation, they managed to make a good step in serving the clients despites of low financial capacity and skills gap. She added that they need high quality skills to be able to work as industry.
Jean Paul Binama has been working in textile sector since 35 years ago and is the vice-president of Rwanda Association of Professional tailors. He said that with government support, they have an initiative to set a big textile industry by the end of 2018.
“We have target to produce many clothes of quality so that in one year we can satisfy 20 districts or a half of the country. We hope that NIRDA’s support will help us bridge skills and equipment’s gaps that hinder the progress,” Binama said.
Jerome Mugabo has also 36 years of experience in this field. He is the director general of Kigali Garment Center and President of (COTAR) Rwanda Cooperative of Tailors and owner of (ACOFOPRO), ‘Atelier de Couture et de Formation Professionel’ or sewing and vocational training workshop said that they expect to have a big textile industry at Gahanga Sector, Kicukiro District in Semi-Industrial zone
The firm will start with 120 professional machines that are expected to deliver quality products.
He said that the government pledged to help them have an accommodation to shift from the rent in which they will be working in after the Rwf76,720,000 previous support the government give them to help in payment of first eight month rent and improving the working place to an international standard level.
“We will also be waiting the training support by WDA, and our factory will provide about 600 jobs at the beginning. We signed leasing agreement (equipment) with BDF and we have capacity to use Rwf100,000,000 BDF promised to give us, and at the beginning we requested leasing of Rwf54,000,000.” Mugabo said.
The factory will at the beginning be producing 500 shirts per day, 600 trousers, 300 jeans, 1500 polo-ti-shirts and 2500 round necks.
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