News / Economy

Chinese Imports Threaten Kenya's Textile Industry

FILE - Kenyan workers prepare clothes for export at the Alltex export processing zone factory in Athi River, near Nairobi.
FILE - Kenyan workers prepare clothes for export at the Alltex export processing zone factory in Athi River, near Nairobi.
Textile workers and business owners in Kenya complain that the import of cheap goods from China and second-hand textile goods from other countries are threatening their industry and suppressing the number of good manufacturing jobs available to Kenyan workers.

The owners want the Kenyan goverment to control the flow of imports into the marketplace and to tax these imported goods.

Individual merchants are feeling the impact of Chinese imports. In downtown Nairobi, some clothing vendors are shifting to Turkey and elsewhere for textile goods because they say their customers complain about the quality in the current flood of Chinese textiles and the customers don't like the lack of variety and color in the Chinese products.
 
Charles Maina, a Kenyan vendor, said these days he gets garments from Turkey after his customers complained about the Chinese clothes.

"What I would like the government to do is to nurture the local industry so that we can have our local designs which we sell locally and this will create employment for youths and we will grow our [Kenyan] economy," he said.
 
Steven Mutoro, the secretary general of the Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK), said there is nothing wrong with goods from China costing less, but he said there is a problem with the quality.

“We have a problem. The issue is not over-pricing," he said. "The issue should be the best convergence point between quality and pricing in terms of being an incentive to the consumer. But as it is today, goods from the east, and particularly China, are flooding the market; one because of the [corrupt] government and two;  because of the incompetence of the Kenya Bureau of Standards.”

According to the African Cotton and Textile Industries Federation, Kenya imports more than 30,000 containers of clothes annually.

The local garment manufacturers have called on the government to levy more taxes on the imported clothes and to create a cotton subsidy fund.

The head of African Cotton Textile and Textile Industries Federation, Rajeev Arora, said government policies are partly to blame for not providing a good economic environment so the local textile industries can compete with China on the price of the clothing.

“We keep saying China is competitor, China is the country which is destroying the market, China is the one which has created this distortion of cost, which has been quite true,"Arora said. "Aut we keep forgetting it’s also us who are not able to build our own competition for China by upgrading our standard of production or technology or productivity or methodology to bring our cost down and our quality up."

Soaring energy costs

According to Arora, the cost of energy is high, over 20 percent of the cost of manufactuing, compared to the international market where the cost of energy is 12 percent.

Arora said for the textile industry to grow and hit $1 billion in exports in the next five years, the government has to reduce the cost of energy and  the cost of running businesses in Kenya.

“It seems like the industry is being stabilized, people are keen to develop and grow," he said. "But what we need is support of policy and a conducive environment and we can see if that is given by the government, we can see a definitive growth where we are and where we can be by 2015 or by even 2020.”

For Kenyan individual vendors like Charles Maina, the hope is the government will support the local textile industry and make it easier to  produce Kenyan made clothes, and hopefully provide Kenyans a shot at getting jobs in the textile industry.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: mhey from: Philippines
July 13, 2013 5:25 PM
"there is nothing wrong with goods from China costing less,but there is problem with the quality", I agree with this statement of Mr.Mutoro, here in the Philippines too from vendors to big department store all you can see is Chinese product. Really cheap that your wallet can afford but very low quality,you can not used it for so long,its a throw away product!!!I think China must do something to improve their import goods!the image of Chinese product,VERY BAD!!!
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
July 14, 2013 12:21 PM
I always find it amazed that ppl complaining the low quality of Chinese products but keeps buying.
Did anyone force you to buy made in China? Or are you too stoopid to learn from your mistake? Or it is really not true and most Chinese products actually have pretty good quality? I may accept the last explanation.

by: Ed L from: Portland, Oregon USA
July 12, 2013 11:30 PM
China is such and outlaw nation in so many ways, that it is a mystery to me why the Gov. of Kenya puts up with them. The Chinese are largely responsible for the on-going slaughter of Kenya elephants and rhinos, and now they are going after Kenya's textile workers.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9012
JPY
USD
122.90
GBP
USD
0.6400
CAD
USD
1.2582
INR
USD
63.438

Rates may not be current.