Nompumelelo Magwaza

the Government had approved a R200 million grant to establish the Southern African Sustainable Textile and Apparel Cluster (Sastac), which would help bring the highly fragmented sector together and improve competitiveness industrywide, the Department of Trade and Industry said on Monday.

The grant would be used to set up a national cluster that would assist the industry to improve its competitiveness in global sustainable textile and apparel manufacturing.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said the cluster would be funded through the department’s competitiveness improvement programme as part of the overall clothing and textile competitiveness programme. The cluster would also help to build and improve capacity in the industry’s value chain.

At the end of the initial five-year plan, the industry should have created between 7 000 and 8 000 jobs, as well as seen an active participation of about 600 newly formed small, medium and micro enterprises, the cluster’s newly appointed manager, Heinrich Schultz, said.

He added that the plan should create additional product sales under the cluster initiative of about R7 billion.

Sastac will act as an umbrella cluster, overseeing about eight already established sub-clusters across the industry.

“The government grant will get the cluster up and running but we hope that after five years it would be a self-sustainable entity,” Schultz said.

The cluster would also be able to improve the supply chain system so that the sector could supply local and international consumers with fully traceable apparel and household textile products.

It would also assist local government to source traceable textile and apparel products adhere to the 100 percent local content designation as stipulated by the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act.

Schultz said yesterday that one of the key objectives of the national cluster was to set up a single organisation for the highly fragmented industry.

“That was critically important for us as well as government and all the bodies involved such as retailers, labour and other stakeholders.”

He said the cluster had created three shared national resources which would comprise of an intelligence and strategy centre, a compliance centre and a finance centre.

“These centres will bring one voice to the industry and will help us to address all the issues from tracing goods to compliance and finance in a single and unified voice.”

Schultz said the industry came together last year to start working on a new national direction for participants.

From the market research and competitiveness analysis, it was discovered that there was an opportunity for the industry to position itself as a global destination for brands and retailers to source sustainable textile and apparel products, Schultz added.

The national cluster would therefore be able to strategically position the industry as well as conduct research and demonstrate technology.

“This will be done in order to develop solutions that would leapfrog the national industry from where it is now to a global position,” he added.