Dealers in second-hand clothes have petitioned the government to set up a sorting centre in Kenya for re-exports, opening a fresh battlefront with local manufacturers.
The sector lobby, the Mitumba Association of Kenya says a sorting facility will cut costs incurred along the supply chain as they target high-demand markets.
The sector launched a report on Thursday that shows that Kenya is well-positioned geographically to act as a global hub linking other markets throughout Africa to the US, and Europe.
“An African hub would have considerable benefits… This would create job opportunities and increase the export of textiles to the largest African markets,” the report read in part.
“These benefits would be enhanced if further sorting centres could be opened, improving the efficiency of the supply chain.”
According to the association, for that to happen, policy-makers in Kenya need to follow an approach that is beneficial for the sector.
The report titled Global Production Networks of the Second-hand Clothing Industry-Impact on Africa was authored by Dr Anuja Prashar of the Mitumba Institute and Research Centre of Kenya.
Sorting centres that grade used or pre-owned clothes have become more prominent.
The better graded used clothing is exported to Central American Countries while lower graded clothing is shipped to Africa and Asia from facilities in Canada, Belgium, and Hungary.
It is estimated each sorting facility can directly create up to 500 jobs with further employment in related sectors.
Currently, there are about two million Kenyans working in the mitumba market.
Speaking at the launch, Ms Teresia Njenga, the chairperson of the Mitumba association said young unemployed Kenyans would benefit from the labour-intensive industry.
Local textile manufacturers have been pushing for ban on importation of the used garments as part of plan to revive the cotton sector and support the Buy Kenya Build Kenya initiative.
But the Kenyan government has been holding back due to uproar from the sector.