The purpose of this study is to examine why Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is not currently a major player in producing apparel for the US market and determine if SSA is likely to become one because of several opportunities that the region offers, including relatively low labor wages, an ample labor force and duty-free access to the USA through the 10-year renewal of AGOA.
In-depth interviews were conducted with eight high-level executives in apparel sourcing and trade agencies to obtain their views on the opportunities and challenges of sourcing in SSA in relation to other major apparel sourcing regions. A descriptive analysis of the qualitative data was used to answer three research questions.
The findings reveal that SSA is a competitive region to source from, because of low labor wages and the duty-free benefits through AGOA. However, several challenges hinder a significant increase in sourcing from SSA. The executives recommended that for SSA to be a significant force in the global apparel market, vertical supply chains should be developed, where raw materials like fabric are sourced from within the country/region and SSA governments should become more involved in business environment improvements.
At present, there is limited academic literature on sourcing and supplier selection in Africa, particularly in textile and apparel sourcing in SSA. Based on interviews from high-level executives engaged in the sourcing decision-making process, this study reveals the benefits, challenges and opportunities for sourcing apparel from SSA countries.
The authors thank Mr Mark Messura, Cotton Incorporated, for his generous financial support during this study.
Adikorley, R.D., Thoney-Barletta, K., Joines, J. and Rothenberg, L. (2017), "Apparel sourcing in Sub-Saharan Africa: Views from apparel sourcing executives and trade policy representatives", Research Journal of Textile and Apparel, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 203-218. https://doi.org/10.1108/RJTA-05-2017-0022
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