DAR ES SALAAM - Twenty-seven-year-old Advester Elieza Moshi says she doesn't have to spend sleepless nights thinking over the upbringing of her two younger sisters who are in primary school after working at the Chinese garment company Tooku. "For me life is not the same again as I am also not worried when it comes to paying house rent and buying food for my family thanks to the company," says Advester. In 2013, Advester secured employment as an operator at the company which is located in the Export Processing Zone in Tanzania's commercial capital Dar es Salaam, and is a subsidiary of JDU Group, a Chinese garments company integrating scientific research, production, domestic and international trade. Tooku is manufacturing products related to denims, mainly jeans, for exports to the US and European markets. Advester wears broad smiles as she boasts that after working for four years with the Chinese firm, she has also acquired sewing skills that she will make use of when her employment ends. "When I was employed here I knew nothing about sewing but four years down the road, I am an expert in sewing jeans that are sold overseas. In fact life will never be the same again after gaining these skills," she says in an interview with Xinhua. Rhoda Benjamin, Advester's colleague who works as a quality controller, says she was employed by the company in 2016, adding that after working with the firm for hardly two years, "the future looks bright". "I am now thinking of making a capital that will enable me to do my own business after having acquired skills here," says the mother of a four-year-son. Advester and Rhoda are among 2,700 Tanzanians employed by the Chinese garments manufacturing firm which started operations in February 2012 by building a sewing and washing factory with sewage treatment, a generator and other infrastructure. "We now have advanced production equipment, advanced technology and deep reserves of talents and we are upholding honesty, credibility, efficiency and quality business ideas," says Raymond Liu, managing Director of Tanzania Tooku Garments Company Limited. Raymond also said that the company will in 2018 acquire a state-of-the-art sewing machine with 14 lines for sewing production. Rigobert Massawe, General Manager of the Tanzania Tooku Garments Company Limited, says the new sewing machine will increase production from 300,000 pieces of Levi's and Wrangler jeans per month to 500,000 pieces of jeans a month.
"The number of local employees will also be raised from 2,700 to about 4,000," says the general manager. "We are exporting 90 percent of our products to the United States and 10 percent to European markets," says Massawe, adding: "Apart from the production of the garments we are also imparting skills to local employees in terms of design, sewing, quality control and assurance, laundry and dye making." Massawe says the firm is however facing a number of challenges, including lack of skilled labour, especially sewing supervisors. "The output we are getting from local institutions don't have enough capacity to fill the demand," he says. Adelhelm Meru, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industries, Trade and Investment, says China is among countries that have supported Tanzania's industrialization plan through investments. He mentions some of the sectors that Chinese investors are expected to invest in as information, communication and technology, education, agriculture, infrastructure development, industries and energy.