Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Impressive array of textile products despite fewer exhibitors

Ermias Abera was visibly impressed by the International Textile and Apparel Expo 2012


held from March 8-11 at the Addis Ababa Exhibition Center.
Ermias, who is helping potential Indian investors scout a place to erect a textile plant, was especially impressed by the traditional clothes of the local Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs) as well as shirts produced by Hawassa Textile Factory located 275 kms south of Addis Ababa.
The attractive textile products of AL Mehdi Industries Private Limited Company displayed at the expo were particularly attractive, he said. 
AL Mehdi Industries’ that came from Pakistan to invest in Ethiopia in 2006 at Dukem Industrial Zone, offered a range of products from laundry bags to sleeveless t-shirts, jerseys as well as trousers and pants. The company also has fleeces used as raw materials for hooded jackets. The products were however mainly for exports. AL Mehdi’s products are either 100 percent Polyester or cotton.
The textile products on display also seemed to draw visitors to the MAA Garment Private Limited Company stall which had 16 different kinds of adult and children textile products. Sara Fisseha an exhibitor for MAA Garment owned by the Ethiopian born Saudi business tycoon Sheik Mohammed Al-Amoudi, said although she was pleased with the interest of the public for their products her company is encountering problems with finding outlets in Addis Ababa. MAA Garment’s factory is located in Mekelle city 783 kms north of Addis Ababa.
For the time being, “most of our products are destined for export thus not leaving enough products for local markets,” Sara told Capital.
Ermias felt this situation of products being predominantly reserved or destined for exports should be corrected. 
Although the expo showed a high number of SMEs involved in traditional textile products, numerous empty stalls, presumably installed for companies who promised but failed to participate in the expo, were noticeable.
One such company featuring clothes mainly from the Southern region is Zufan Modern Traditional weaving and Bamboo Manufacturing and Distributor Company
Zufan Ibrahim, owner and designer  said the textile products on display featured clothes from some of the 56 ethnic groups found in the Southern Region. Her company is also engaged in clay and jewelry works.
Some of the products on display featured clothes of ethnic groups such as the Sidama from the regional state’s capital Hawassa, the Wolayta known for their bright rainbow clothes, the Gofa people located around Arba Minch and the Hamer people popularized recently in literary works.
The handiwork textile products ranged from ties, curtains, shirts and bags as well as exquisite wedding gowns. As for the price acrylic products tend to be more expensive than yarn products.
The cheapest item, scarves, ranged in price from 40 to 70 birr each, children’s dresses stood at between 160 and 350 birr while jackets ranged from 600 to 1000 birr each.
Zufan admitted that her products tend to be more expensive than other textile products because of the high cost of the raw material needed for knitting, in addition to costs in training professionals in the tiresome hand weaving techniques of the work and their subsequent salaries.
The company’s sales markets are Hawassa, Addis Ababa and other cities on the Ethio-Kenya highway.
A similarly impressive traditional textile products stall was the Abeba Knit and Cultural Dresses Production and Distribution Company which has received numerous medals and trophies signifying its success at the national level. Its general manager Abeba Zenebe said in addition to knitting and selling traditional dress items from the Southern region’s numerous ethnic groups, her company also makes jackets styled from the northern Ethiopia region of Raya located in Amhara and Tigray regional states.  Her products are sold in Hawssa and Hossaena, 211 kms south of Addis Ababa with plans to open a sales branch in Addis Ababa.
The hand woven textile products on display, ranges from scarves with a price range of 15 to 40 birr each to traditional contemporary southern bride dresses that costs about 5000 birr.
Another local company participating in the expo was Ambassador Garment and Trade Private Limited Company, which interestingly has put in display the sewing machine, scissor and ironing machine used by its present owner Seid Mohammed Birhan when he started his business in the 1980’s.
Ambassador Garment, which has 64 branches around Ethiopia selling its renowned suits as well as shirts and ties surprisingly, had few products on display compared to the relatively large space it had taken. The company has plans to open several more branches in different parts of Addis Ababa.
Ermias Urgessa Promotion and Market research head at Ambassador said they had participated in order to exchange experience with other textile companies as well make contacts with companies that produce textile accessories needed for their products.
Ermias also said Ambassador has plans to set up a plant for producing women formal dresses.
Fekadu Ethiopia Corporate Communications Expert at Textile Industry Development Institute (TIDI) told Capital that about 90 exhibitors were expected for this exhibition. The Ethiopian International Textile and Apparel Expo 2012 also featured fashion shows as well as visits to SMEs located in Shiro Meda area of Addis Ababa.
The expo was jointly organized by the Textile Industry Development Institute (TIDI) and Ethiopian Village Adventure Playground Private Limited Company.