The US-based Philip Van Heusen (PVH), a company which dominates the global textile and apparel market, has started exports of t-shirts made in the newly erected Hawassa Industrial Park.
Having recently secured a 40 percent investment stake at Wuxi – a Chinese textile firm which makes various textiles – PVH is said to have exported t-shirts to the US. Belachew Mekuria (PhD), deputy commissioner of the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) told reporters last Friday that PVH along with a handful of manufacturing firms at Hawassa Park have entered into the export market.
Operating small size units in Kenya and Egypt, PVH has now established a joint venture with an Indian company, Arvind, in Ethiopia and has secured 15,000sqm manufacturing shed in the park to create 800 jobs. The export volume and value PVH has launched two weeks ago remains undisclosed. PHV operates the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein brands globally and the coming of such a globally reputed company, which commenced production nearly for two decades, has been seen as paradigm shift to the ill-fated textile sector of the country.
The Hawassa Industrial Park, which is solely set for textile and apparel productions, has attracted 16 specialized companies so far. Hydra Mani, one of the anchor companies next to PVH, has been able to export textile worth USD one million on a monthly basis. Ontex, a Belgian manufacturer, has commissioned production recently is set to export sanitary pads and baby diapers to the local and global markets.
The deputy commissioner added that 40 percent of the products are destined for local markets. Up until December, Ontex is expected to export USD six million value of diapers. Currently, with a single line of production staffed with 15 personnel and one machine, the manufacturer makes 500 pieces of diapers per minute, Belachew said.
All in all, six out of the 16 companies have started exports and ten companies have finalized installations to run production testing procedures. The remaining 10 manufacturers are expected to launch a full-fledged export by the coming September. From Hawassa Park alone, the government expects to amass USD one billion, annually. It is also expected that the park will create 60,000 jobs during the first phase.
That said, out of the 13 industrial parks in the pipeline, Mekele and Kombolcha are set to be inaugurated mid-June. By the end of September, both Adama and Dire Dawa are due to be completed. In addition to Hawassa, Mekelle, Kombolcha and Bole-Lemi Industrial Parks are dedicated for textile and apparels manufacturing.
Though major companies are joining the manufacturing sector in Ethiopia, the issue of quality cotton, wool and the like remains to be a headache for the government. Currently, a Chinese firm has applied to receive half-a-million-hectare land to cultivate cotton in the country, Belachew said. So far, there are ten fabric millers from abroad, which are processing imported wool.