NAIROBI, KENYA: President Uhuru Kenyatta has met importers of second hand clothes over decision to ban them in East African states.
Mr Kenyatta held a discussion with the Association of Mitumba Importers in Kenya (AMIK) to discuss how the sector can accelerate the development of the textiles sector in Kenya.
The meeting came in the wake of an agreement among East African Community (EAC) member states to kick off process to ban second hand clothes, commonly known as mitumba.
Majority of the traders estimated at 65,000 people, in Gikomba alone, have since protested the move, saying the ban, if implemented, will affect the economic growth of the country.
But the Head of State said it was time for the industry to promote local manufacturing and grow high-value jobs while ensuring that the Mitumba business goes on without interruption.
"There is need to provide competitive alternatives for Mitumba traders through Kenyan manufactured apparel, to be sourced locally at competitive prices whilst ensuring adequate supply of good quality products," the President said.
The importation of 'mitumba' is blamed for the collapse of the country's textile industry.
Kenyatta acknowledged the critical role the Mitumba sector has played and continues to play in clothing many Kenyans, in addition to creating jobs especially for young people.
"This is an important part of my Administration's effort to promote 'Buy Kenya, Build Kenya'," the President told an AMIK group of 25 who visited State House for the discussion on how to grow Kenya's textiles sector.
The Association and the government, through the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Trade agreed to collaborate to address issues that currently affect the second-hand clothes market.
"Ultimately, the key was for the Mitumba industry to slowly move into the new clothes market, supporting local production and local jobs," the President said.
Cabinet Secretary for Industry, Investment and Trade, Adan Mohamed and his Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo, as well as National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich also attended the meeting.
The representatives of AMIK were led by their executive committee and were also accompanied by Hon Yusuf Hassan Abdi (MP Kamukunji Constituency), Hon. Maina Kamanda (MP Starehe Constituency) and Hon Kenneth Irungu (MCA for area covering Gikomba market).