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PIC: Faith Lumonya, programme officer of SEATINI, displays secondhand undergarments after a press conference in Kampala.

Civil society organizations have backed the East African Community (EAC) heads of states to ban the importation of secondhand clothes in order to build the capacity of cotton and textile industries within the region.

"It is important that the decision by the heads of states to phase out secondhand clothes be supported in order to enable the EAC in general and Uganda in particular grow and enhance her local production capacity," said Faith Lumonya. She is the programme officer of Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI).

With specific reference to Uganda, the group argued that Uganda National Textile policy value chain analysis indicates that with added capacity at spinning, weaving and finishing stages, more revenue can be generated and more jobs could be created internally beyond the 2.5 million across the value chain.

“As such, the EAC can implement measures to phase out secondhand clothes so as to boost her domestic industries,” the civil society groups told the media in Kampala. On February 20, 2015, the EAC heads of states directed the council of ministers to study modalities for the promotion of textile and leather industries in the region and stopping the importation of used clothes, shoes and other leather products from outside the region. 

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Today civil society organizations under their umbrella “Working Group on Trade & Development” have requested the government of the republic of Uganda and the East African Community (EAC) in general to completely phase out the importation of second hand clothes into the region. The request was echoed through a press conference held at the SEATINI-Uganda offices in Bukooto.

They brought out facts that the heads of state on 20th February 2015 directed the council of ministers to study modalities for the promotion of textile and leather industries in the region. The decision arose out of the need for the EAC to advance a market driven towards integration by boosting manufacturing and industrialization.

It is on this note that Amb. Nathan Irumba, the executive director SEATINI Uganda requested the government to seriously support both financially and policy wise the growth of the cotton textile and apparel sector.

Susan Nanduddu, the Executive director ACTADE believes that by phasing out these second hand clothes, the realization and achievement of the president’s vision of 2040 will come true. “I believe that the parliament of Uganda shall bring that bill back to table and push for a complete ban on second hand clothes said Nanduddu. Our administrators should consider the citizens dignity of not wearing under garments (underwear) which have already been worn by Americans”. In addition she stated that women in Uganda play a big role in the agriculture and textile industry ie knitting which comes as an added advantage and therefore a need to revive these sectors..

It should be noted that a couple of years back in Uganda, citizens used to have “Jinja clothes” not because of the brand “Jinja” but as a result of being locally manufactured in Jinja.” Said George Magimbi, a policy officer at Uganda Manufacturing Association. He emphasized that government should support the cotton and textile industry since these sectors can greatly curb unemployment levels especially among the youths & women as well as producing sustainable and decent economic growth in the country. Therefore to achieve the vision 2040, there is need to promote local industries through the “Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU)” campaign and therefore a need to ban second hand clothes.

AGOA should not be used as a dumping mode to Africa but rather a channel for development. With the increased purchase of second hands in Uganda, the question that needs to be addressed is whether Ugandans will afford the locally produced clothes. However if we are to move forward, we need to insist on standards. UGANDA AND THE EAC SHOULD STAND FIRM ON THE DECISION TO PROGRESSIVELY PHASE OUT SECOND HAND CLOTHES