Fraser-Moleketi wants Africa to be ‘cradle of creativity’ in the fashion world

01 December 2016 - 14:40 By Roxanne Henderson

Political veteran Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi is flying the flag high for African fashion. The African Development Bank (AfDB) vice-president and special envoy for gender on Thursday spoke at the launch of the Fashionomics initiative - an online platform by the bank to grow the continent's fashion industry.The bank launched a prototype to demonstrate the platform's potential value for players in the industry's value chain - from cotton farmers to designers.Fraser-Moleketi said the global fashion industry is worth billions of dollars and that Africa had to get on board and cash in.The prototype was launched Johannesburg because South Africa is an important player in the industry‚ with one of the most dynamic fashion industries on the continent‚ she said.“There is this strong view that Africa is the centre of creativity. At the end of the day‚ what makes South Africa special is that the Cradle of Humankind is here. This is where we claim everything started. We should actually show that we can make this the cradle of creativity.“We know that as production costs rise in Asia‚ Africa offers another frontier in the search for new apparel-sourcing markets. With a strong apparel tradition‚ a large entrepreneurial workforce and the right incentives‚ African countries‚ including South Africa‚ are compelling new sourcing destinations for global brands.“And we want to make it very clear that Africa should not just be seen as the source of labour … we want to become the centre of creation‚ of innovation.”According to market research by Euromonitor International‚ the combined apparel and footwear market in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be worth $31-billion.But a lot more can be earned if raw materials like cotton remain on the continent‚ to be processed and sold on local shores.With 13-million young Africans joining the labour force every year‚ Fraser-Moleketi said it is imperative that Africa develops labour-intensive industries like fashion.“We don’t want young Africans to drown in the Mediterranean‚ seeking a life in ways that's not required.”The AfDB's Fashionomics platform aims to break down barriers currently putting fashion entrepreneurs on the back foot by connecting and strengthening the links in the industry's value chain.It will ultimately create a virtual marketplace‚ providing entrepreneurs with access to markets‚ financing and banking services‚ industry news‚ networks and training. – TMG Digital

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