EPZ firms’ local sales quota raised to 40pc


Shoppers at an EPZ clothing sale. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The ailing textile sector has been handed a lifeline, with the proposed increase in the amount of goods that manufacturers based in the special economic zones can sell locally.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said that the apparel manufacturers operating from the export processing zones (EPZs) will now be allowed to sell up to 40 per cent of their goods locally, a significant improvement over their current local market quota.

“We want to increase the current quota of 20 per cent that is allowed for the local market up to 40 per cent so that the local apparel manufacturers can employ more Kenyans,” Mr Kenyatta said.

The President said increasing the quota will help create employment for Kenyans while opening up the market for local apparel manufacturers.

He said the move is also intended to see more Kenyans wear new garments manufactured locally as opposed to the second-hand ones imported from the US and Europe.

The advent of cheap second-hand clothes, locally known as mitumba, in the mid-1980s helped speed up the decline of the country’s nascent textile industry and killed production of raw materials like cotton.

More recently, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives has moved to promote local brands through “mega  sales” in various counties.

The inaugural sale held at Nairobi’s Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in March attracted an estimated 150,000 Kenyans.

A similar sale kicks off in Mombasa from Friday, May 5 at Oshwal Community Centre in Mombasa.

“As we forge forward, it is our desire to see Kicomi (Kisumu Cottom Mills) and other such companies revived. Let’s also increase cotton farming in Kenya so that our youth can get employment,” Mr Kenyatta said during the Labour Day Celebrations at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park.

About 80 per cent of textile and apparels produced at the EPZs are sold under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) — a trade pact that allows US buyers to import goods from a number of sub-Saharan African countries without paying taxes.