Stakeholders push intra-African trade in fashion industry 

By Hudu Yakubu, Abuja

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Stakeholders in the fashion industry are calling for improved intra-African trade and business relationships amongst entrepreneurs in the fashion and arts industries on the continent.
This is as the African Fashion & Arts Award (AFAA) emphasised the need for fashion and art creatives to be empowered, rewarded and celebrated.
Founder and President of AFAA, Mr. Kingsley Amako, noted that over 65% of the African 1.4billion population is made up of youths between the creative ages of 12-35 years and that fashion and arts remains the most viable and potentially the creative industry vertical generating the most revenue enough to effect a significant change on the continent’s GDP.
Amako, at a recent press conference in Abuja, argued that despite the continent’s attention shift from oil to tech, the textile and apparel industry remains the second largest revenue generating sector in the world’s developing economies, second to agriculture.
Speaking on the forthcoming 3rd anniversary of AFAA. scheduled to hold in Abuja later in the year, Amako said insisted that the attention to the fashion and art creatives is the way to go.
The 3rd anniversary of the AFAA is scheduled for 1st to 3rd December 2023 at the Abuja Continental Hotel while the scheduled East African Media Tour to Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda on the 6th, 10th and 13th October 2023 respectively.
Amako, when asked the reason for the tour stated that it is the organisation’s practice since 2021 in South Africa, 2022 in Cairo Egypt and 2023, Three (3) East African countries.
Amako, while appreciating the sponsors of the AFAA 2023, said the AFAA mission, vision and mantra to be centred on Empowerment, Rewards and Celebration of Creativity.
“To achieve the Africa we desire, the right amount of awareness and sensitization has to be made for the relevant government, public and private sector organisations to consider for investment.
“The African Union, African Development Bank, AfCFTA, AFREXIMBANK, Bank of Industry and the list goes on and on, have declared keen interest in the creative industry however the emerging entrepreneurs in the fashion and arts sector seem to think that this is only for the Music and film industries.
He added that the AFAA would change this narrative through, “these Press conferences across Africa and the Award ceremony in December to encourage achievers in the fashion and arts industries and as a platform for harnessing the inherent talents amongst the millions of African creative youths.”
He identified the benefit of AFAA’s mission in Africa includes to encourage talent development and skill acquisition for self-reliance, create job opportunities for the over 13 million African graduates annually, improve the continents GDP, attract Foreign Direct investments (FDIs), promote intra-African trade and business relationships.
The organisation also seeks to influence the distribution and trade policy reviews, contribute towards women and youth empowerment, promote peace among nations, influence african youths for less or zero security threat, contribute towards poverty eradication with the capacity building training sessions through the AFAA masterclass and mentorship symposium, to promote export for FX and to strengthen several nations economy from high patronage of home grown, provision of market information, access to markets and suppliers, promotion of entrepreneurial activities and the channelling of funding to entrepreneurs and SMEs/MSMEs.
Amako in his summary mentioned that the Fashion and Arts industries identified as the sector employing the most women and youths in the continent and the sector that complete the value chain from the Farm to finished apparels.
The fashion industry globally is expected to double in the next 10 years, generating up to US$ 5 trillion annually. In the USA alone, US$ 284 billion are spent every year on fashion retail through the purchase of 19 billion garments. This presents a tremendous opportunity for Africa at various levels of the value chain, from design to production to marketing, the fashion industry is a profitable business. The fashion and arts industries hold considerable potential to motivate and bring change to some of the most disadvantaged people, especially women and youth, while advancing structural transformation.
Acknowledging the role of modern technology, AFAA 2023 have considered topics on the infusion of technology in the fashion and arts business to the AFAA masterclass and mentorship symposium. AFAA seeks to use fashion and Arts which is all encompassing as a driving tool for economic development, while creating opportunities and platforms for emerging fashion entrepreneurs, Musicians, Creative Visual Artists, models, Painters, Sculptors, Writers, Poets and Podcasters.