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Mitumba sector adds over 800,000 jobs in 10 years, eyes more


 Customers select for mitumba clother at the Gikomba open Market in Nairobi County. [David Gichuru, Standard]

The second-hand clothes (mitumba) sector created over 800,000 jobs in the last decade, new data shows.

A report by the Mitumba Consortium Association of Kenya launched yesterday shows that jobs created as a result of this business grew from 577,000 in 2013 to 1,381,000 in 2021.

The report authored by Prof Patrick Diamond, a professor of Public Policy at Queen Mary University of London and Director of Mile End Institute says every single tonne of second-hand clothes imported into the East Africa Community creates 7.58 jobs.

"Given the second-hand clothes industry is employment intensive, it has the potential to generate a continuous supply of relatively secure and well-paid jobs throughout the value chain," reads the report in part.

Traders now want the government to facilitate investment in modernised sorting centres in the country to expand jobs in the sector.

This would see the clothes imported into the country sorted locally instead of abroad.

According to the Mitumba Consortium Association of Kenya, this could create more jobs.

The report titled The Second-hand Clothing Industry in the East Africa Economy covers Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The report highlights the importance of the sector, saying it helps conserve the environment.

"Many second-hand clothing jobs are 'green' (jobs) that contribute towards reducing carbon emissions by reusing and recycling textile materials," the report says.

Prof Diamond explained that the 7.58 jobs created per tonne of import extend beyond just the trade of clothes to warehousing and transport sectors.

"It is an industry with a long and complex supply chain and its potential to create jobs is almost unending," he said.

Mitumba Consortium Association of Kenya chairperson Teresia Wairimu said the sector's potential can be enhanced with several policy interventions.

One of them is to set up more sorting centres, which would transfer jobs from abroad to Kenya.

"Significant investment should be made in the supply chain infrastructure for second-hand clothing, including the expansion of sorting centres in strategic locations," she said.

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