Environmental and Social Standards in Ethiopia’s textiles and garment industry (eTex)

Project description

Title: Sustainable Textile Program
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Ethiopia
Lead executing agency: The Ministry of Trade and Industry of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Overall term: 2016 to 2020


Ethiopia’s textile industry is set to gain a steady foothold in the international textiles and garment export market. The country now has a unique chance to enable sustainable development and inclusive growth of the sector. The industry aims to export USD1 billion worth of garments every year by 2020 and has the potential to create jobs for more than 350,000 people. In the past five to six years, 65 international textile investment projects have registered in the country. Growth is directly linked to the government’s industrial development strategy. 

However, efficiency in factories can often be slow, affecting the production volume between 40 – 45 per cent. Processes need developing and the workforce requires more education. Cycle times can be up to 150 days due to the lack of raw materials. Only 40 per cent of the materials needed are available in Ethiopia, while the remaining 60 per cent are imported. Compared to other countries, manufacturing and production can take 45 to 60 days longer. Challenges also include restriction in technology, specifically in digital processing for transactions. Simultaneously, international buyers have raised social and environmental standards in the past years, due to greater customer demand for fairly produced garments. Growth in the sector and its establishment in Ethiopia need to be sustainable, adhering to international standards and regulations.


The programme provides institutional support to Ethiopian textile companies from the beginning of their industrial growth to improve social and environmental standards.



Implemented on behalf of the German government by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), the eTex program partners with various stakeholders and sector actors to improve social and environmental standard in textile and garments factories.

The strategy addresses challenges from different angles. eTex collaborates with the private sector, providing advisory services, direct support, cooperation on developing human capacity, promotion for Ethiopia’s image abroad, as well as forging market ties. eTex works closely with sector institutions to create a solid institutional framework for the sector and enable government partners to become quality advisors to the sector in terms of social and environmental standards. The program also works with enforcement units responsible for industrial standards to improve the capacity of inspectors from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (to fulfil social standards) and the Environment Forestry and Climate Change Commission (to fulfil environmental standards). It also supports the introduction of a standard for sludge management, which the country requires. The government of Ethiopia has invested in building at least 16 eco-industry parks throughout the country. The eTex program has initiated a partnership with the Industrial Parks Development Cooperation to support park management units.


The eTex program supports an increasing number of companies introducing international certification schemes for improved social and environmental standards. 

  • By the end of 2019, over 20 textile companies should be certified in Ethiopia, and 15 businesses already have their certification. 
  • Over 1,200 workers who were interviewed agreed that work in the textile sector is overall satisfying. They are also aware of the social and environmental standards their companies apply. 
  • 20 companies have confirmed they are following up on inspector’s recommendations for improved standards. 
  • Two out of three planned pilot projects in Ethiopian industrial parks are about to start demonstrating best practices examples for environmental and social standards. 
  • Through the participation of eTex and its political and private partners in five international trade fairs, the program helps forge market ties and business relations with buyers from abroad.