Opportunities to source textiles, apparel and footwear from Africa are the focus of a special event taking place in Cape Town next year, which brings together producers from more than a dozen sub-Saharan African countries.

The Source Africa fair will take place from 9-12 April 2013 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Its aim is to bring domestic and international buyers and retailers face-to-face with textile, apparel and trims suppliers across the continent.

The event will consist of a two-day trade exhibition featuring African country pavilions - including Lesotho, Kenya, Mauritius, Tanzania, Swaziland and South Africa - showcasing around 100 producers, along with a matchmaking programme that introduces buyers to vendors and can also set up factory visits.

A series of seminars will also explain why sourcing from Africa makes sense - highlighting investment opportunities in the region, addressing compliance issues, environmental stewardship, labeling product safety and preferential trade access.

"In the past decade, trade between Africa and the rest of the world has tripled, private foreign investment has surpassed official aid, and it will surely keep rising," explained Cynthia Brown, public diplomacy officer at the US Consulate General in Cape Town.

"Africa, as our business community is learning, now offers the highest rate of return on foreign direct investment of any developing region in the world. In fact, it's the only developing region where the growth rate is expected to rise this year."

Through the US's African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), Africa's textile and apparel sector has attracted major brands such as Levi's, Wal-Mart, Gap, Old Navy, Victoria's Secret, Target and Calvin Klein, creating around 300,000 jobs in an industry primarily staffed by women.

In Europe, the Everything But Arms (EBA) system of trade preferences allows duty free, quota free access to products from many textile and apparel- producing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Madagascar, Lesotho and Tanzania.

The event is being organised by LTE South Africa, with support from the USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub. Click here for more information.