The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) is pushing for a proposal that would require mitumba traders to sell at least 10% of local textile apparel. The aim is to promote the growth of Kenya’s apparel sector, which has the potential to create around 200,000 new jobs by 2030 and save the country over Sh40 billion annually by cutting imports of used clothes by half. KAM is also calling on the government to develop a legal framework to reduce the imports of second-hand clothing and shoes, and enforce Buy Kenya Build Kenya initiatives.

According to KAM CEO, Anthony Mwangi, imported mitumba worth an estimated Sh9 billion goes to waste. By cutting imports by at least 50% by 2030, Kenya could save Sh40 billion annually. The proposal calls for the revival of cotton ginneries and textile mills, and increasing spinning capacity from 39% to at least 65% by 2030.

The government has prioritized the textile and apparel sector as a key driver of job creation, exports development and industrialization. According to KAM’s Women in Manufacturing (WIM) Program Chair, Mary Ngechu, local manufacturers should adopt inclusivity and sustainability to give them a competitive edge in the global markets.

Investments, Trade and Industry CS, Moses Kuria, had hinted at the possibility of Kenya banning the importation of secondhand clothes, once plans to offer affordable alternatives are in place.

Kenya has a long history of demand for used clothing and footwear, mainly by rural households and lower-income earners. The proposed new regulations by KAM are aimed at promoting the growth of the country’s textile and apparel industry and providing job opportunities for Kenyans.