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Second-hand clothes dealers call for more protection

By Fredrick Obura | March 4th 2021

NAIROBI, KENYA: The import ban on second-hand clothes (mitumba) in March 2020 highlighted the need to protect the industry which employs 2 million people and supports the livelihoods of 24 million Kenyans.

On Thursday, the Mitumba Consortium Association of Kenya launched a report on the state of the second-hand clothes and footwear sector.

The report dubbed ‘The State of Second-Hand Clothes and Footwear Trade in Kenya’, published by the Institute of Economic Affairs seeks to examine the structure and extent of the used clothing industry in Kenya, and its contributions to the economy.

The report paints a picture of the sector's contribution to the economy, notes textile industry and second-hand clothes and footwear sectors can co-exist in Kenya.

“Based on the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Manpower Survey, the industry employs an estimated 10 per cent of the extended labour force, which translates to at least 2 million people,” said the Mitumba Consortium Association of Kenya Chairperson, Teresiah Njenga.

According to her in terms of taxes, the sector paid Sh12 billion in 2019 to the exchequer. 

"This is a significant contribution to the economy in jobs and taxes, and this goes to show that the sector can no longer be ignored and needs order and policies to govern it. This report is the first step towards our goal of pushing for policies to govern the sector.”

The report notes that it is a mistake to believe the expansion of textile manufacturing will only proceed if the existing mitumba sector is weakened or reduced in size.

The key point, confirmed by economic analysis, is that open product market competition is likely to expand and promote both parts of the sector.

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