Peter Matambanadzo Senior Reporter
Zimbabwean women blew $13 million on fake hair and hair care products between January last year and July this year, figures released by the Zimbabwe Statistics Agency on Thursday show.The products include hair extensions such as braids, complete synthetic wigs, hair pieces, human and animal hair.
Other articles imported are hair lacquers or hair sprays, shampoos and preparations for permanent waving or straightening as well as synthetic fibre eyebrows and eyelashes.
According to Zimstats, the hair extensions and hair maintenance products were imported from 27 countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and America.
Zimstats said between January and December 2013, Zimbabwe imported the hair and hair products for over $8,5 million and that at least $4,4 million has already been spent on the same products in the first quarter of this year.
The bulk of the hair extensions and hair care products were imported from South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and China.
Zimstats indicated that at least half of the imported hair extensions and products were imported from South Africa for around $5,5 million, while $1,1 million worth of products came from Kenya, China ($300 000), Tanzania ($440 000) and Mozambique ($413 000).
Zimbabwe also imported artificial hair and hair care products from several other countries including the United Kingdom, Italy, India, Hong Kong, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Egypt, Botswana, Mauritius, Nigeria, and Zambia.
The African hair care industry has become a multi-billion dollar business that has drawn global giants such as L’Oreal and Unilever to the continent.
Market research by Euromonitor International recently revealed that last year women in Nigeria, South Africa and Cameroon alone spent a whopping $1,1 billion on their hair.
This also includes purchases of shampoos, relaxers and hair lotions.
The study stated that despite limited financial resources, African women were spending a combined $7 billion on wigs, hair extensions and relaxers every year.
The bulk of the hair sold in Africa comes from Asia and is made up of cheap synthetic fibres, while natural hair is offered at higher prices.