Seven years is too short a span to judge many things, especially an event of this kind. But still enough—given that so many things have changed the world over in the last few years—in what ways and how exactly do you think the Africa Sourcing and Fashion Week (ASFW) has grown?
ASFW has grown from 50 exhibitors to 250-300 exhibitors today. The number of trade buyers has grown from only 500 people to 4,500 trade buyers (from over 50 countries) today. ASFW has created over 50.000 new jobs within the African garment industry in the past years.
Africa is huge and varied. By extension, the ASFW is spread across a huge canvas. How have you—over the years—gone about what to include, what to highlight and what to promote?
Our job is to support African garment and designer industry. Hence, we collect information about every region´s policy regarding garment and textile plans. We then make sure that those plans are realized at ASFW. E.g. West Africans want to support cotton production while the East African region wants to promote the manufacturing of textiles and garments. Then, we have a few countries (e.g. Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Ethiopia) who target to promote the designer section. So, for every wish and plan, ASFW has the right concept and buyers for them all. This is why today most African countries participate at ASFW.
ASFW 2022 will be highlighting, among things, regional integration in trade. What are the challenges that African industry (as a whole) is facing? What do you think can/should be done to surmount those?
The African industry lacks highly trained employees. Especially, working overtime (like Asians do) is not popular in Africa. Most of the African countries have high custom rates which makes buying raw materials, accessories and technology expensive. But African governments are trying to find solutions to get easy investment and trade within the continent.