Clothing Export from sub-Saharan Africa: Impact on Poverty and Potential for Growth

Discussion Papers


by FUKUNISHI Takahiro

July 2008


Increases in clothing exports after 2000 signaled the first incidence of large-scale manufacturing exports from sub-Saharan Africa. Using firm-level information, this paper explores the potential of clothing exports for poverty reduction and further growth as seen in other low income countries. It shows that the garment exporting industries in Kenya and Madagascar have contributed poverty reduction in the short term by providing mass employment for female and less educated workers with wages beyond the poverty line. However, the long-term impact is not certain. High production costs and limited development of local firms weaken potential for further growth in the competitive world market. Upgrading of the market and improvement of efficiency are required to remain competitive for African industries, and governmental support for local participation are needed to facilitate technology transfer.

Keywords: manufacturing exports, poverty reduction, FDI spillover, productivity
JEL classification: F21, D24, J31, O33

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