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Textile Industry Suffers

Kennedy Gondwe/Twenty Ten

Location: Lusaka, Zambia

Textile industry does not benefit from World Cup.

The Zambian textile industry is struggling to compete with the influx of cheap clothes that are mass-produced in Asia. Donations of second-hand clothes by charities from the west have not helped matters either. It was against this backdrop that Charity Ngoma, a Zambian designer, celebrated in 2004 when she heard that South Africa had won the right to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Her dreams was to make money from creating authentic local designs, but it has unfortunately turned out quite differently for her. “The majority of the people can’t afford to buy my fabrics. They’d rather buy cheap imports from China,” she says with a long face. “I wouldn’t say I have benefited from the World Cup. Nothing has changed.”

Zambia’s poor would rather buy cheaper foreign clothes and because only 10 percent of the potential employable population is in formal employment, buying expensive local fabric is beyond the reach of many.

Chibamba Kanyama, a local economist, rues the missed opportunity for Zambia’s textile industry in relation to the World Cup. He says, “The demand for jerseys is very high because Zambians want to be associated with teams participating in the World Cup.”

“I can’t even imagine what the benefits would have been if Zambia had a vibrant textile industry,” Kanyama notes.

If only Zambia had a thriving textile sector, local companies could have clothed the nation and imports would not have been necessary.

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