Does the African fashion industry need leadership?

When it comes to the markets for cars, music or technology – then the major events are easy to pick out, everything is clearly organised on a global scale, very efficient and business like. With African fashion, events seem more localised, the design and production are smaller-scale and often regionalised. How much will reorganisation and focus play in the development of the African continent over the next 5 years? Where will that leadership come from?

Here’s a list of companies that you may not recognise: Pegatron, Compal, Quanta, Wistron and Inventec. If we add in Foxconn, then we have just named the companies responsible for producing almost 90% of the world’s laptop computers and Apple products. All of them are Taiwanese.

At just 23 million, Taiwan is a fraction of the size of China, yet a huge percentage of the world’s technology is designed, controlled and co-ordinated through these 6 Taiwanese corporations.

Why?  Well mainly because the Taiwanese are famous for their high standard of education, ambition and commitment to quality. Even though production is out-sourced to mainland China, the senior management team will always be Taiwanese-led. The combined population of the 55 countries that make up the continent of Africa is similar to that of China, but where does the co-ordination come from?


There are many sayings related to ‘Strength through unity’ and maybe this is something that needs to happen more in Africa. South Africa, Nigeria and Dakar have major fashion events, but in general these are localised. Maybe its time for a large, centralised event – similar to Gitex in Dubai for technology, which will attract over 150,000 ‘serious’ visitors.

One of the main reasons for creating was to help raise awareness of fashion in Africa, in a new and more engaged way. We are hoping to be ‘part of the spotlight’ that helps new talent shine – and increase the chance of doing business with other countries. Having co-ordinated media with a large audience is crucial to any enterprise or event.


Business needs to be seeded. Everyone wakes up at harvest time, but growing a significant fashion industry in Africa means taking the time to ’till the soil’, ‘plant the seeds’ and then ‘nurture its growth’. It will cost a small fortune and will not happen overnight, but to see the benefits of having a massive manufacturing industry operating across Africa – you only have to look at how much China now invests into other economies – like the USA. The USA owes China around $1.3 trillion and the American population works hard so that it can pay China $75 million a day in interest alone. Imagine what kind of projects could be funded in Africa with that kind of money.

Above all, realising this kind of dream will take inspiration. It could come from one person or a number of leaders working in cooperation toward a common goal.

However it manifests itself, the sooner that African can bring a large scale, co-ordinated approach to the fashion industry, the sooner it will begin to realise its untapped potential – increasing opportunity and quality of life for all Africans.

If you, our readers, believe there is something that Africa Fashion should be focusing on – then please let us know!


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