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Benin Republic developing home-grown textile industry

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On a large factory floor in southwestern Benin, dozens of young people cut, stitch and assemble cotton shirts – part of a major push by the West African country to develop its textile sector.

Benin has in the last few years become Africa’s leading cotton producer, with an annual production of 728,000 tonnes in 2020/21, according to government figures. It exports almost all of that raw, with the majority going to Bangladesh.

Now, an initiative is underway to create jobs and revenue by processing the cotton locally, with the goal of exporting apparel to consumer markets in Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States.

“We have decided that in this country, we are no longer going to sell this cotton raw. We are going to transform this cotton, in particular by installing integrated textile factories,” the managing director of the Glo-Djigbe Industrial Zone (GDIZ), Letondji Beheton said about 45 km from Cotonou.

GDIZ started two years ago as the result of a partnership between the government and Arise Integrated Industrial Platforms (Arise IIP), a pan-African venture partly owned by the Africa Finance Corporation.

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