New life has been breathed into Africa's textiles, clothing and footwear sectors through a number of regional initiatives to boost jobs and trade.

Speaking at the launch of the four-day Source Africa 2013 event in Cape Town this week, Lionel October, director-general of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), said the country's Clothing Textile Competitiveness Programme (CTCP) strategy has helped the industry become globally competitive.

"Local retailers are increasing procurement from local manufacturers and there is confidence starting to be shown by the new investment in the sectors," he said.

"CTCP stopped the employment decline in these sectors and more than 12,000 new permanent jobs have been created. Local retailers have committed to local procurement in support of manufacturing companies. Over 400 companies were assisted under the CTCP with ZAR1.5bn (US$168m) worth of applications approved."

October said other countries in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) - which includes Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland - have also embraced the Clothing and Textiles Competitiveness Programme (CTCP) concept.

Other African countries have developed their manufacturing bases by taking advantage of international trade agreements like AGOA (the African Growth and Opportunity Act) to build on their industries.

"Through these interventions countries like Lesotho have seen their textiles and clothing sectors growing to the extent that they are now one of the biggest manufacturers on the continent both in fabric and garments.

"Mauritius on the other hand has taken advantage of the AGOA and EU trade agreements but their focus on the African Markets through the SADC (Southern African Development Community) and COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) protocols has paid off well for their clothing sector especially their knitted garments.

"Their exports into SACU have grown substantially in the last five years whilst targeting South Africa as their main African destination," added October.

Intra-trade amongst African countries is also important for the industry.

"These sectors are labour intensive and have the potential to create large employment especially in the garment manufacturing sector where the investment is low but the job creation is enormous.

"The industry has the biggest advantage that the raw materials like fibres, skins and hides are readily available in the African countries and it make business sense to beneficiate these raw materials instead of exporting jobs by selling these resources to countries out of Africa."

October also said South Africa has opened its markets to Africa through different protocols where rules of origin are respected and the manufacturing sectors of those countries are developed.

The Source Africa event is an initiative of the USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub and is designed to highlight what the Africa region has to offer in textiles and apparel.

Separately this month, the South African government has drawn up a revised three-year industrial policy to help boost manufacturing capacity and jobs - including new measures to support the country's textiles, clothing and footwear sectors.