President Kenyatta commissioned the regeneration of the Rivertex cotton processing plant to boost Kenya's textile industry © AFP/Getty Images
President Kenyatta commissioned the regeneration of the Rivertex cotton processing plant to boost Kenya's textile industry © AFP/Getty Images

Affordability warning over Made in Kenya Fridays

25 July 2019

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ‘Made in Kenya Friday’ initiative is not affordable for many Kenyans, a stylist has warned.

In June, Kenyatta called on public sector workers to wear at least one garment made in Kenya every Friday to support local production.

Benie Amandine, a professional stylist, told CNBC Africa the general reception to Kenyatta’s initiative had been positive but the garment industry was still very young, making Kenyan made garments unaffordable for many.

“Unfortunately it’s still not that affordable to the Kenyan community because of all the different aspects that come with the products. First of all, they have to import the fabrics and they have the cost of labour and the manpower they have to put in. It’s still not very affordable,” she said. 

Last year, the number of imports of second hand clothing rose to record levels in Kenya. Amandine said this was due to unemployment and selling second-hand items was “one of the easiest ways to put food on the table”. 

The regeneration of the Rivertex textile factory in Eldoret, commissioned by the president last month, would further boost the Kenyan textile industry and support the initiative, she added. 

“With the revival of Rivatex, more people will be employed and it will be a viable alternative to selling second hand clothes,” she said. 

Launching Made in Kenya Fridays Kenyatta said: “I encourage the private sector to join the government in this Made in Kenya Fridays Initiative so that we may showcase what our local apparel industry has to offer.”

Kenyatta commissioned the Rivertex cotton processing plant at a cost of Sh5bn ($48m), which will create over 3,000 jobs around Eldoret and benefit thousands of cotton farmers in over 24 counties in Kenya.

“The estimated 3,000 direct jobs that this project will generate and the tens of thousands of indirect jobs created in support and ancillary activities will go a long way in boosting not just this region but also our national quest for value addition and an increase in manufacturing and jobs,” he said.

The president also directed government ministries to fast track the commercialisation of genetically-modified and pest resistant BT cotton to plug existing cotton shortages in Kenya.

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