Tanzania has started training tailors as part of the country’s preparation to implement regional ban on importation of second-hand clothes and shoes by 2019. Jenista Mhagama, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled affairs, confirmed the move on August 20, 2016. East African leaders early this year announced a total ban of second-hand clothes imports into the region in a bid to save local textile players.
According to the minister, youths are trained on fashion design; cutting, tailoring and other related skills. “We want as more youth in this industry so that they are employed within the country,” the minister said, noting that Tanzania produces enough cotton to feed the current and the coming industries.
It is estimated that East African countries, including Tanzania imported $151 million worth of second-hand clothing last year, most of which were collected by charities and recyclers in Europe and North America. According to 2013 UN figures, South Korea and Canada combined exported $59 million worth of used clothes to Tanzania while Britain alone exported $42 million worth of used clothes to Kenya.
In the 1970s, east Africa’s clothing manufacturing sector employed hundreds of thousands of people, but when the debt crisis hit local economies in the 1980s and 1990s, local manufacturing struggled to compete with international competition and factories were forced to close.