The textile industry continues to be a government priority as the sector has growth and large-scale employment potential.
The once profitable sector has had its own fair share of struggle with some factories closing shop.
The industry temporarily recovered between 2009 and 2011 when the government, in response to the global recession, granted the textile industry a two-year P38 million ‘special support programme’ designed specifically to fund payment of wages.
In 2006, the textile and apparel imports from Botswana fell from $4.8 million, to $993,000 in 2017 and were only $3,000 in 2018.
Speaking during the textile thought leadership forum recently, Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) permanent secretary Peggy Serame said the textile and clothing sector presents itself as a fundamental strategic industry for the country.
“Textile sector continues to remain a priority sector to the country.
The sector mainly generates low-skilled, youth oriented jobs that provide livelihood for thousands of youth and as indicated, especially for women,” she said.
According to Serame, government has aggressively pursued economic diversification as a developmental strategy with an aim of reducing dependence on other sectors.
She further stated that the deliberate economic government policies to grow other sectors particularly manufacturing in the textile and clothing sector is fundamental in elevating the country’s industrial base and create the much-needed employment.
“The textile and clothing sector in the country is identified as one of the sectors with potential to assist the country to
We need to work together and come up with solutions that can make the industry profitable like before,” she said.
Meanwhile, a Botswana Textile and Clothing Association member, Chinniah Krishna raised his concern over the deteriorating state of the textile and apparel industry locally.
“The industry needs some urgent attention otherwise there will be a few factories left in the country with lot of unemployment.
Government has to support export and supply local markets,” he stated.
Krishna also suggested that the government should consider giving them investment grants to buy new machinery, which will in return reduce the costs of labour.
Touching on the challenges, he said transport costs for both inland and freight are very high to both imports and exports.
He said previously the industry was profitable because there were financial incentives to compensate the cost of transport services and labour.
“It is now tough on our side and the textile industry in Botswana is dying, together with the government we urgently need to do something, otherwise there will be only a few factories left,” he said.
In addition he suggested that government should consider offering investment grants to factories to buy machinery like they do in South Africa.
He also urged government to implement strong legislation that all government bodies must buy locally manufactured goods.