Reutlingen / Ethiopia / Uganda / Ghana / Zimbabwe 2018 – H. Stoll AG & Co. KG, the leading manufacturer of flat knitting machines, based in Reutlingen-Germany, has been working with the African market for over 40 years. This is the success story in 3 parts. In our last part, we would like to introduce you to Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana and Zimbabwe.
STOLL in Ethiopia
Garment- and leather shoe-manufacturing, along with cultivation of agricultural products (mainly coffee), are the main industries in Ethiopia. These industries are mainly driven by foreign investment. Local companies are not yet in the position to play a bigger role in this game. Due to the lack of foreign currencies, Ethiopian companies are outplaced when it comes to economic growth and wealth as they are simply not able to invest. The two major local banks are trying to help with a leasing scheme for interested companies from all kind of business fields. But the lack of foreign currencies, even in the banks, makes it nearly impossible to invest in machines. Another handicap for local companies, and even foreign companies, is that, so far, no foreign banks are allowed in Ethiopia. Even though the textile manufacturing sector has been named a number one priority for the country, there are still many obstacles to overcome. Qualified and well- trained people are not yet available to the extent as required. Foreign investors have to make use of expensive expats for quite a long period to get their business running and achieve the economic targets – this is where STOLL comes into the picture. STOLL has been the first manufacturer of electronic flat knitting machines to supply two state-of-the-art CMS machines, along with two design software M1plus® to the Textile Institute of Bahir Dar University. Education and training are the base for a positive future of the flat knitting industry in Ethiopia. Today, Bahir Dar University is giving education to roughly 3,000 students. It is planned to double the number of students within the next 5 years. Bahir Dar is currently constructing a “Mega Textile City” within the University campus. The aim is to educate and produce simultaneously. Bahir Dar wants to become the biggest University in Africa for applied textile sciences as well as one of the biggest textile producers. Buildings are nearly finished and waiting to be equipped. STOLL will have a vital part in the flat knitting sector. This way, we can assist in further education/training as well as in production of flat knitted items. The Ethiopian government is attracting foreign investors with an exemption of income/profit tax, duty free import/export possibilities and quota free export to the US and Europe (for textiles). In addition, Ethiopia is selling energy at the lowest rate in the area and is building huge industrial estates country wide. The railroad from Addis to Djibouti and the extension of the Hawassa cargo airport (direct flights to Saragossa in Spain will be made available) are part of the development of infrastructure in the country. Hawassa industrial zone is already one of the biggest zones in the country and the first international companies are moving in. The system of incentives will definitely attract all kinds of foreign manufacturing companies, at least for the period of the incentives, which is between 7- 10 years respectively. The government is aware that these companies will move, once the incentives are not available anymore, but hopes, that until then, the local industries have grown in such a way that substitutes the foreign companies. But, to achieve that, money has to be made available! There is still a long way to go, but this is possible to achieve with the new Prime Minister. STOLL is represented locally and is consistently monitoring the situation.
STOLL in Uganda
Since we are active in Kenya, we also know that flat knitting is done in Uganda. The yarn trade between Kenya and Uganda made us discover potential customers. Like in all East-African countries, school uniforms are a must for children and students. As such, flat knitted sweaters and cardigans are part of the equipment. But, so far, everything is knitted on hand flat or semi-automatic machines. Knitters were more than impressed when we showed them how to knit fronts, backs and sleeves completely shaped. No waste means saving around 30% of yarn (in comparison with the semi-automatic machines)! In addition, the productivity and reliability of a computerized flat knitting machine speaks for itself. Customers calculated quickly how much money they could save per year and, conclusively, the investment in computerized machines became cost effective. This is not limited to school students but also churches, hospitals, military and police sectors, and all government related industries that are in need of knitted sweaters. The potential is huge and has to be developed step-by-step.
STOLL in Ghana
Since 2018, we have the first two CMS 530 HP machines in the country. A Catholic Diocese was able to realize this project with the support of a well-known German company. The diocese today is doing garment manufacturing as well as knitting sweaters. Getting the local technicians trained was a big challenge as they had no knowledge about knitting but, within a few weeks, they were ready to program and knit.
STOLL in Zimbabwe
Economically speaking, the South African neighbor is far behind, but hard working people want to bring this country up. Unfortunately, there is still a big lack of foreign currency. Nevertheless, we have customers in Zimbabwe equipped with the latest CMS technology. And these customers are moving on steadily, but it always takes time to get the money released. But they are confident that, with the new government, things will become easier in the future. STOLL is handled in Zimbabwe by our South African agent. A combination that has proved to be very successful.
Stoll AG & Co. KG is an international manufacturer of flat knitting machines based in Reutlingen, Germany. The world-renowned company was founded in 1873 and now employs more than 1,000 people across the globe. STOLL exports to more than 50 countries and offers its customers a one-stop shop for services. The STOLL product portfolio comprises 3D knitting machines and knitting pattern software, which are used both in the world of fashion and in technical textiles. Innovative technical developments and a modern production environment allow STOLL to cover an extensive spectrum of knitting trends, and underline its ambitions to operate as an innovation leader in an increasingly digitized environment.
Photo: ©H. Stoll AG & Co. KG