The Mitumba Consortium Association of Kenya (MCAK) is calling for the establishment of sorting facilities within the country to improve the quality of second-hand clothes accessing in Kenya, as well as create an avenue for re-export to neighboring countries.

MCAK chairperson Teresia Njenga says traders are often making losses due to poor quality clothes finding their way into the local market after sorting in other countries.

A report dubbed “Global Production Networks of the Second-Hand Clothing Industry by the Mitumba Institute and Research Centre, indicates that there’s an increasing flow of cheap ‘fast fashion’ products from Asia into Africa.

“The second-hand clothing industry is likely to remain a continuing source of employment, tax revenues and wealth creation, as long as National Governments provide a competitive operating environment, that is conducive to the sector’s long-term development,” said Dr. Anuja Punj Prashar of Mitumba Institute and Research Center.

The Mitumba Consortium Association of Kenya says this is likely to continue to undermine Africa’s textile industry with negative consequences for employment and the economy.

There has been an increase in demand for second-hand garments with about 4 million tones of used items traded every year.

As such, local traders are calling for the establishment of sorting facilities in Kenya to check on the quality of imports as well as re-export some clothes.

The association argues that by the time the vessels dock at the Port of Mombasa, the items have been sorted out and sold for profit in Australia, Canada, Spain, the UK and United States with the less desirable clothes shipped to Africa and the Philippines.

According to MCAK, Kenya’s mitumba industry employs an estimated 2 million people.

“The mitumba sector already employs two million people directly, therefore, having sorting facilities will create over 500 jobs in the related sector,” said Wairimu.

By Fred Odanga Azelwa