Uganda is formulating a strategy to revamp its cotton, textiles and apparel (CTA) sector to tap into the global market and has identified the sector as a development priority, given its potential for foreign investment and jobs. The plans follow similar efforts to exploit the US African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), where Uganda’s earnings have been modest.

The CTA sector ranks high among priorities under the third edition of the National Development Plan that is scheduled for launch later this year. Over the coming months, a comprehensive sector development strategy for the cotton value chain will be developed.

Although AGOA offers a big opportunity, Uganda’s prospects have been hampered by a number of policy and market issues. Exports have been dominated by low volume products like handicrafts and interior décor, according to a report.

According to figures shared by Msingi East Africa, a not-for-profit organisation that supports economic sectors with high potential to drive large-scale growth, during a recent Uganda CTA strategy development meeting organised by the National Planning Authority, the global apparel manufacturing market was worth $785.9 bn in 2018. But Uganda’s CTA earnings totalled just $22 mn, with the European Union being the main destination.

Lint dominated exports and only 12 per cent of the 37,000 tonne of cotton lint that Uganda produced during the 2017-18 season was consumed in the domestic market. Msingi East Africa is optimistic that Uganda’s CTA goals are achievable because with a quarter a mn growers and surplus ginning capacity, Uganda is capable of producing 185,000 tonne of lint annually.