Mitumba is here to stay

In Summary

• Trade CS Moses Kuria wants to revitalise the textile sector to be like Bangladesh where it employs 5,000,000 people

• Kuria says he does not want to ban mitumba and was misquoted on that matter

Mitumba traders on the streets in Kisumu
Kisumu Mitumba traders on the streets in Kisumu

Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria wants to develop a local textile industry that will make the import of secondhand clothes (mitumba) superfluous. He says he was misquoted as saying that he wanted to ban mitumba altogether.

Kuria points out that Kenya employs 50,000 people in the garment sector compared to 500,000 in Bangladesh. Kuria is right that there is huge potential for increased exports of clothing. 


The average citizen is better dressed today than 50 years ago when textile factories were still operating in Kenya. Mitumba has provided more variety and better quality than the locally made clothes available in the 1970s. Mitumba is a rational consumer choice.

Moreover, about two million people work in the mitumba business, almost 10 percent of the working population.

Kuria's vision is that locally produced clothes will be cheaper but this will only happen if there are protective tariffs for local manufacturers, and that will rise the cost of clothing for ordinary Kenyans.

Kuria should be supported in his drive to increase clothing and textile exports. Kenyans are smart and hard-working so that opportunity exists. But the Trade CS should accept that mitumba is here to stay.

Quote of the day: "Citizenship is a tough occupation which obliges the citizen to make his own informed opinion and stand by it."

Martha Gellhorn
The American journalist was born on November 8, 1908

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