Ethiopia is a country that has worked very hard to build its capability in this area, and it’s had considerable success. Some global apparel manufacturers are actively moving to transfer manufacturing capacity from Bangladesh to Ethiopia.
In fact, in an interesting development Bangladeshi manufacturers are starting to outsource some of their production capacity to Ethiopia and to other East African countries. This development is slightly ahead of the curve because a lot of people are talking about transferring their capacity from China to Bangladesh at the moment.
However, whether this move to Africa will work out remains to be seen because Ethiopia as it happens is under some turmoil. There has been a crackdown on the opposition. There are worries that this will have an impact on the kind of companies that are looking to invest there, because one of the things that they’re very focused on, particularly in the apparel industry, is corporate responsibility.
Companies want to make sure that their supply chain is not riddled with issues like child labor or collapsing factories – the things that have really damaged their image in the past. So this political crisis is exactly the sort of thing that’s going to put off the manufacturers that are just starting to get interested in that country.