Kenyan mitumba dealers push for establishment of re-export facilities



Second-hand clothes dealers (mitumba) in Kenya want the government to introduce sorting centres, saying such facilities would allow the country to export clothes to high-demand markets in the United States and Europe.

“The sorting facilities will help achieve Kenya’s goal of becoming one of Africa’s leading high-value, high-wage and high-skilled economies,” said Teresia Wairimu, Chairperson of the Mitumba Association of Kenya, adding that “Sorting facilities should be established in free zones, given the advantages this confers by allowing goods to enter the zone without the imposition of customs duties.

The association, the sector’s lobby, fights to prove the economic importance and relevance of the profession. Kenya and other EAC member countries have planned to reduce dependence on second-hand clothes by promoting policies to ban the trade, pushing for the revival of the culture industry cotton and encouraging local fabric manufacturers to increase the local production and sale of clothing.

But so far the trade is thriving, with only Rwanda having taken concrete steps towards its eventual ban.

Lower the costs

At a press conference in Nairobi on April 24, the association said sorting centers would reduce costs incurred along the supply chain.


The commercial sorting centres, where second-hand clothes are sorted, are all located outside the continent, with the main hubs in South Asia, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Hungary. This is despite the fact that Africa has one of the largest second-hand clothing markets in the world.

According to the Global Production Networks of the Second-Hand Clothing Industry report, four out of five people on the continent wear second-hand clothing.

In the sorting centers, the clothes are compressed into 50 kilogram bales and exported. Unsorted second-hand clothes are compressed into bales of 500kg to 1000kg, which limits exports.

“Better quality used clothes are exported to Central American countries and lower quality clothes are shipped to Africa and Asia,” Ms Wairimu said.

Special preference

“If all the second-hand clothes were sorted here rather than overseas, Kenya would gain up to 14,000 more jobs,” she added.

However, Johnson Weru, Principal Secretary of the Kenyan Ministry of Industry, Trade and Enterprise Development, said: “One of the things we have done is to give special preference to government procurement for our textile industry. local. We want to promote our local textile industry.

The Mitumba Association said its efforts are meant to complement what the government is doing.

“There is too much misunderstanding and misinformation about the role of the second-hand clothing sector, following successive attempts to completely shut down the industry in some countries,” Ms Wairimu said.


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