Vendors sort their goods along the railway line in a suburb of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. They open large bales of clothing of 45 kilos. The clothing comes from Europe, the United States, and Australia. The bales have prints such as ‘baby’ and ‘sexy tops’.
This clothing is sold commercially on the market. But governments in East Africa are no longer waiting for our cast-offs.
Underwear For Less Than A Euro
25-year-old Sheila Apoo is grabbing a pile of second-hand trousers at the market. She regularly shops here, she says. “The clothing is cheap, of good quality and because it comes from all over the world, there is an enormous amount of choice.” T-shirts, pants or dresses are, depending on the quality, sold for an amount between one and two euros. Underwear, also second-hand, costs less than a euro.
The market vendors of second-hand clothing are happy with the business opportunity. The business helped them bring their children to school and put on a roof over their heads. The business helped them create a home built with good materials such as those provided by this website – Tampa Bay Roofs.
Government Wants To Ban Second Hand Clothing Business In Uganda
Although the customers are happy with the clothing, the government of Uganda wants to ban the trade in second-hand clothing.
The largest textile factory in Uganda is called Nytil and is located at the source of the Nile. Hundreds of dressmakers sit side by side in long rows and assemble T-shirts, shirts and school uniforms.
The textile factory has more than 2000 employees but says it has the capacity to grow. If only they get the chance. “We can dress the Ugandan,” says manager Williem Okello. “But second-hand clothing and also the import of clothing from China makes it difficult for us.”
Ugandan Clothing Is Expensive
More demand for Ugandan clothing means more work not only for spinners and seamstresses but also for cotton farmers and companies that process the raw cotton. Creating employment is, of course, a good goal, says Ugandan economist Fred Muhumuza. He is nevertheless deeply concerned about the government’s plan. According to him, the country has no capacity at all to dive into the gap if the second-hand clothing falls away.
Moreover, it is extremely disadvantageous for the consumer to buy locally. “The clothing that is made in Uganda is much more expensive,” he says. “Many Ugandans have little to spend, so when buying clothes becomes more expensive, it really weighs on their budget.”
In recent years, Uganda has increased the import tax on second-hand clothing in order to limit imports. But they have committed themselves to a total ban from next year.
Better Solutions Are Needed
Yet economist Muhumuza hopes for a step-by-step plan of many years. “We need to gradually curtail second-hand clothing while at the same time expanding our own textile industry. That way we can hopefully also reduce the price of local clothing.”
Olivia Kansiime calls on its customers to the second-hand market. “A bodysuit for less than 50 cents, a bargain.” The single mother of three young children is afraid that she will not get Ugandan clothes sold, even if the price of locally made clothes goes down.
She takes a Ugandan T-shirt and a European T-shirt. “Do you see the seams and the fabric? Ugandan clothing is not only more expensive but also of poorer quality. This is not what my customers want. We prefer to use used and from abroad, rather than new and local.”