Sustainable Textiles Programme
Title: Sustainable Textiles Programme (eTex)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ethiopian Ministry of Industry (MoI)
Overall term: 2016 to 2019
At present, 85 per cent of Ethiopia’s population depends on farming for their livelihoods. The Ethiopian government has selected the textile and clothing industry to promote light manufacturing, job creation and diversify the national economy while promoting exports. Their plan is to create 300,000 new jobs in the textiles and apparel sector by 2025. In recent years, the industry has grown at an average rate of 51 per cent with more than 65 international textile investment projects registered in the country. Special incentives like zero-duty imports, establishing industrial parks across the country and investments in providing power have led to a 46 per cent increase in foreign direct investments in the past few years.
Even though Ethiopia has signed 16 out of 21 relevant international conventions on labour law and environmental protection, companies of the textile industry so far have not introduced them completely and the overall monitoring by the Ethiopian government is not sufficient. Ethiopia is at a crossroads; either it follows the conventional path of many Asian countries and treats social and environmental standards as a presumed barrier to competition or it resists this pressure of a race to the bottom and establishes a garment and textile industry sustainable in all dimensions (social, ecological, economical).
In this regard, the Sustainable Textiles Programme (eTex) is offering support to Ethiopian companies.
Companies in the Ethiopian garment and textile industry increasingly introduce and enforce social and environmental standards. Their improved and proven compliance leads to increasing international demand and secures jobs and income for Ethiopian employees.
eTex has chosen an approach that builds capacity in all levels of the garment and textile industry. First, it cooperates with the private sector by providing advisory and direct support services and helps to build up human capacity and promotes the image of Ethiopian textiles and garments internationally and by creating market links to other countries. Second, together with the Ethiopian Textile Industry Development Institute (ETIDI) and the Industrial Park Development Cooperation (IPDC), institutional frameworks are built to provide quality advisors for social and environmental standards. The programme is involved in organising the existing as well as future textile industry parks sustainably in different parts of the country. Third, eTex supports enforcement units responsible for industrial standards, by increasing the capacity of inspectors from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change.
The eTex programme contributes to the introduction of international certification schemes for improved social and environmental standards in an increasing amount of companies in Ethiopia. The overall aim is to have more than 20 textile companies certified by the end of the project; currently, more than 15 are certified.
More than 1,283 interviewed workers have agreed that their work in the textile sector is overall satisfying and that they are aware of social and environmental standards introduced in their companies. Furthermore, around 20 companies have confirmed that they are informed and following up on inspectors’ recommendations for improved standards.
Two out of three planned pilot projects in Ethiopian industrial parks are starting to demonstrate best practice examples for environmental and social standards.
Through the participation of eTex and its political and private partners in more than four international trade fairs, the programme is actively contributing to building market links to European buyers and promoting Ethiopia as the new African hub for sustainable textile and garment sourcing.