The Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta met with the Mitumba Association yesterday to unveil a further easing of the restrictions on the import of used clothing into the country.
Mr Kenyatta met with the association’s chair Teresia Njenga, who handed him a petition highlighting the challenges traders of used clothing and shoes (mitumba) in the country are experiencing as a results of the country’s Covid-19 containment protocols.
Kenya, a key market for used UK clothes, banned the import of mitumba in March over fears of bringing coronavirus into the country.
A spokesperson for the president said: “His excellency the president reiterated the government’s commitment to continue creating an enabling business environment for enterprises to thrive by eliminating trade barriers.
“As a step towards the resumption of importation and sale of mitumba in the country, the Head of State and the traders agreed a number of measures.”
As first reported by letsrecycle.com, the Kenyan government released protocols to allow the resumption of used clothing into Kenya earlier this month (see letsrecycle.com story). These included a 35kg limit per bale.
The 35kg limit was highlighted as an issue by some textile recyclers, who said it would lead to difficulties in loading shipping containers with sufficient material. Some containers have limits on the number of bales allowed, recyclers said, so reducing the weight of each one meant lower margins.
However, the limit was increased yesterday, with a new maximum of 50kg meaning a “return to normal” for exporters.
Other changes announced yesterday included the introduction of random inspections, as opposed to having every individual shipment checked.
The full list of restrictions unveiled yesterday can be seen at the bottom of this story.
Kenya is one of the biggest markets for UK second-hand clothes. Items are usually sold in local markets, providing employment and an important income stream for the local economy. Clothes from Kenya are also often sold on to other East African countries.
The restrictions were controversial as the sale of used clothing in Kenya is a vital income for many.
“I am sure this will take a lot of pressure of the backs of processors, charities and suppliers”
Tosh Vyas, managing director of Bedford-based Fortune Eximports, said: “This is great news for us , we are thankful to the Kenyan authorities.
“I am sure this will take a lot of pressure of the backs of processors, charities and suppliers, who have all had sleepless nights due to ban and also the reduction in size of the bale”.
The list of restrictions are as follows:
a) All mitumba importers shall be required to register with Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS);
b) Mitumba shall be packed in bales that do not exceed 50kg. The Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development and KEBS shall initiate necessary corrective measures;
c) Mitumba importers will be required to obtain pre-shipment fumigation certificates in addition to complying with health protocols as directed by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development and KEBS. Importers will ensure that fumigation is undertaken before baling in compliance with the established standards;
d) Mitumba importers will be required to adhere to the KEBS standards and ensure that prohibited items are not imported into the country by instituting necessary sorting and categorisation mechanisms before baling. The members of the association have committed to observing this requirement and have been made aware of the sanctions associated with its violation;
e) For ease of contact tracing and tax compliance, importers and wholesalers of mitumba shall be required to submit to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and KEBS, a register of their first tier customers;
f) Mitumba importers will ensure that they obtain certificates of conformity from KEBS contracted agents in the country of origin before importation;
g) KEBS and KRA shall undertake necessary random inspections to ensure compliance with relevant laws and will take action against offenders in accordance with the law.