Kenya’s treasury Secretary Henry Rotich recently raised the duty on imported second-hand clothes and shoes, known as mitumba, from previous $0.2 per kg to $5 per kg or 35 per cent, whichever is higher, to protect local textile companies and create jobs. He said the step will guard against low mitumba prices that make it tough for local companies to thrive. However, anxiety does exist in the country about the loss of thousands of jobs within the mitumba industry, according to Kenyan media reports.
The East African Community (EAC) member nations in the past had proposed a ban on import of mitumba. However, some buckled under pressure after the United States threatened to suspend Uganda and Tanzania from duty-free access under the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA). Rwanda currently faces a ban. Kenya has, however, preferred to use tax measures and incentives to encourage the growth of the local industry. According to the Economic Survey 2018, the textile sector recorded a decline of 1.7 per cent last year but production of wearing apparel increased 5.6 per cent due to a growth of 10.4 per cent in the production of T-shirts.