- Kenya is one of the largest importers of second-hand clothes in Sub-Saharan Africa
- The second-hand (mitumba) business was the campaign hot potato ahead of the August elections.
About two million people will lose their jobs if the government bans the importation of second-hand clothes better known as mitumba.
A report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in 2021 showed the sector employs approximately two million people, from the total of 20.6 million in the Kenyan labour force.
With so many people depending on the trade for an income, the business has been a source of livelihood for far many more.
However, Trade, investment and industry CS Moses Kuria said the government will ban second-hand once plans to give the people affordable alternative is in place.
"I will work with the textile industry to ensure that we make cheaper clothes available in this market, and then we will ban mitumba when we give people an alternative," he said on Tuesday.
The second-hand (mitumba) business was a campaign hot potato ahead of the August elections.
Employees in the sector are spread across various levels of the value chain, from ports to consumers.
They include people involved in handling alterations, refinement and distribution of the clothes and shoes.
The trade also offers a source of livelihood for people in security, insurance, transport and research.
The report said the country’s second-hand clothing and footwear sector contributes over Sh1 billion in taxes every month, amounting to approximately Sh12 billion annually.
It is almost at par with other sectors like wine and spirits and cigarettes.
Kenya is one of the largest importers of second-hand clothes in Sub-Saharan Africa
A study by the Institute of Economic Affairs and Mitumba Consortium Association of Kenya in 2019 revealed that 91.5 per cent of households buy second-hand clothes worth Sh1,000 and below.
The report also highlighted that Kenyans spent about Sh197.5 billion, an average of Sh4,150 per person per year for all purchases of second-hand and new clothes and footwear.
Approximately two million Kenyans work in the mitumba market. Since the second-hand clothing industry and the formal textile industry are two distinct industries, players in those markets are not inherently competitors.