President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has banned the importation of used clothing into the east African country, saying that it hinders the growth of local textile companies.
He stressed that the used clothing imported into Uganda belonged to dead people from the West.
“They are for dead people. When a white person dies, their clothes are dumped. I do not know which person gathers their clothes and sends them to Africa. We should stop wearing them,” Museveni said.
“We have people here who produce new clothes but they cannot infiltrate the market because the second-hand clothes are already all over.”
Uganda, like most African countries, has long imported huge amounts of secondhand clothing, which some consumers like since it is less expensive.
However, local manufacturers emphasized that dumping of second-hand clothing floods the market, hurting Uganda’s capacity to ascend the cotton and textile value chain.
Museveni said the ban would also extend to electricity meters and electric cables, saying they should be bought from factories in Uganda.
According to Uganda’s central bank, the East-African country is an important supplier of cotton, although much of it is exported in semi-processed form, with the value of its cotton exports fluctuating between $26-76 million per year in the decade through 2022.
The East African Community, of which Uganda is a member, agreed in 2016 to a total ban on used clothing imports by 2019, but Rwanda was the only country to implement it.
In response to the implementation of the law, the United States terminated Rwanda’s license to export duty-free clothes to the United States in 2018, which was one of the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Secondhand clothes thrive in Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Benin, Uganda and Kenya as they remain the biggest markets for them in Africa.