Exploring Tanzania’s textile industry


Before you change something, you have to understand it first. We think, that there is much more potential in Africa’s textile industry than there is now. However, we also know that there already is an industry for many years that we can learn from and also work together with.

After spending a lot of time in Uganda, we knew it was time to see more and understand deeper and broader what East Africa’s textile industry has to offer. That’s why it was clear: Tanzania is where we’re heading.

Like many African countries, Tanzania had a growing textile industry, but with the rise in cheaper imports and stronger competition abroad, many companies could not sustain themselves anymore. Right now, the textile industry is smaller, but again, slowly growing. We found multiple textile factories mainly producing fabrics for uniforms, T-shirts, and bedsheets. There are also multiple factories producing Kitenge and Khangas which is the traditional printed fabric.

Next to many learnings about Tanzania, we found one striking insight: the fabric producers of the countries we had explored (Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania) all produce very similar, often identical products. The companies mainly supply a portion of the local market and also export some of their produce. For Waya Collective, that led to another important benefit. Waya will set up garment factories in the beginning which should supply the local market. The products are standardized as are the factories and also the input materials, such as fabric. The repetition of the fabric produced will enable us to implement the same model in all of these countries and use locally produced fabrics.