On July 22 2021, the triangular cooperation project “Sustainable Textile Investment and Operation in Ethiopia” held its second steering committee meeting with its political partners from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the Ethiopian Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development to review project results achieved so far and to reach common ground on the next steps of project implementation.
Though delayed due to the travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the project made steady progress along its established work streams. In October 2020, the China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC) and Ethiopian Textile Industry Development Institute (ETIDI) started a baseline survey (accompanying Baseline Report will be soon released) into the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) performances at 15 Chinese-invested, 10 Ethiopian-owned, and 5 non-Chinese invested textile and garment enterprises in Ethiopia, through questionnaires, interviews, desk research and policy reviews, on issues including human resource management, labor rights, community relations, environmental management, supply chain management, as well as COVID-19 impacts, and response measures taken by these enterprises.
The survey revealed significant differences in overall business management culture between China and Ethiopia, increased awareness of environmental protection among most Chinese-invested enterprises, and the strives by all interviewees to maintain business operation during the pandemic. It also found out that the enterprises have been faced with many challenges including lack of local policies and standards which can be used as technical references, and shortage of talents and capital for setting up management systems and relevant trainings.
As the next steps, the project will design and provide technical and social competence trainings to the industry managers and workers, to tackle the challenges highlighted by the survey. Furthermore, it will establish cooperation between Chinese and African stakeholders, organize international and regional conferences, develop an online knowledge hub for disseminating best practices, and for providing open training programs.
The concrete mutual learnings among the three countries and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have attested to the value of triangular cooperation as a feasible model for international development cooperation. To maintain the momentum, the Steering Committee members agreed to an appropriate extension to the project implementation to early 2022 to ensure that all planned activities are completed. If successful, the partners will try to scale up the cooperation and replicate ESGs best practices in other developing countries in Africa and Asia.