Kenya spent Sh6.6 billion importing second-hand clothes in the first half of the year, official data shows.
The data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows the import bill for second-hand clothes, also called ‘mitumba’, grew 8.2 per cent from the Sh6.1 billion spent in the first half of last year.
Kenyans prefer mitumba owing to high quality, design, and fair pricing which has seen imports stay on an upward trajectory, impacting negatively on cotton industry.
The data shows volumes grew 12.4 per cent to 69,862 tonnes from the 62,158 tonnes imported at a similar period last year.
Early this month Gikomba market, the biggest open air space where mitumba business thrives, burnt down, leaving thousands of traders in a state of disarray.
Mitumba imports have grown rapidly in the last two decades, leading to the decline of Kenya’s cotton industry.
Kenya textile exports dropped 30 per cent to Sh1.8 billion in the first half of 2017 compared to the Sh2.6 billion registered at a similar period last year.
Over the past two years, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi have been mulling the bloc’s industrialisation policy giving priority to a joint restriction on mitumba clothes and shoes.