The African continent has always played a significant role for Stoll, a manufacturer of flat-knitting machines based in Reutlingen, Germany, says in a recent Knitting Industry article. The company has an agency contract in South Africa dating back more than 35 years, for example, and Stoll machines built in the 1950s and ’60s are still running in factories in South Africa and Kenya.
The company shares some insights on growth opportunities throughout the continent. One country it cites is Madagascar. “As one of the sub-Saharan countries, Madagascar enjoys advantages in terms of exports to Europe and the U.S. Where products are currently knitted to a large extent on hand machines, before long these will be replaced by electronic flat-knitting machinery,” the company predicts.
Already in Madagascar, the company notes that electronic flat knitting machines are finding their way into factories owned by companies based in Mauritius, China, Italy, France or the Netherlands.
Kenya is now the largest exporter of garments in the sub-Saharan region followed by Lesotho, Mauritius and Ethiopia, the article says. Kenya’s woven exports include a variety of uniforms, wraps and scarves. The presence of Stoll machines is increasing in Kenya because of greater demand for school sweaters in particular, the company notes. Also, shoe uppers are being produced on Stoll machines in this country.
Infrastructure plays a role in textile industry success. The company reports that “the new railroad between Mombasa and Nairobi is helping local entrepreneurs to ship goods in a much faster way to the next seaport and, from there, to Europe or the U.S.”