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Kenya’s second-hand clothing imports from China rises by 86% 



Kenya’s importation of second-hand clothing from China jumped to 86.2% in the first quarter of the year.

Second-hand clothing imports mostly from China is Kenya’s largest source of low-cost used clothing with an enormous number of buyers in the country.

According to the East African, Data from Chinese authorities shows the country exported 31,594 tonnes of second-hand clothing and accessories to Kenya between January and March 2024, valued at $22.732 million.

In the first quarter of 2023, the value of second-hand clothing imported from China stood at $20.651 million for 16,962 tonnes brought in.

Second-hand clothes in Kenya are trendy amongst low and middle-income earners due to their low prices and greater affordability compared to new ones.

Traders in second-hand clothing operate from major markets, malls, and shopping hubs while some stick to the roadsides.

According to the Kenyan National Bureau of Standards, traders in Kenya imported 177,664.4 tonnes of second-hand clothes in 2022 valued at $148 million.

China is the largest source of imported second-hand clothing in the country with the United States, Canada, and countries in the European Union also playing a key role.

The second-hand clothing trade in Kenya profits from the inability of the local textile industries in Kenya to meet up with the growing population of the country.

Kenya has 52 textile mills that convert fibre into yarn, but only 15 are operational, according to the Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis (Kippra).

The functioning textile mills in Kenya are not even using their full capacity due to low labour productivity and low technology.

In addition to that, the Textile industry is also facing increased business costs like high electricity tariffs which are stifling their market competitiveness and ceding more market share to the second-hand clothing traders.