But a number of countries in East Africa are fed up with the onslaught of secondhand items they receive from Western nonprofits and wholesalers, and want to ban such imports altogether. But experts say the vast amount of these imports have devastated local clothing industries and led the region to rely far too heavily on the West.In March, the East African Community (EAC), which is made up of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda, proposed banning all imported used clothing and shoes by 2019. The goal is to stop relying on imports from rich nations, boost local manufacturing and create new jobs.Proponents of the ban say it has the potential to help empower East African economies.There is also hope that a ban willinstill a new sense of pridein the region’s people, since “no one goes around proudly showing off” someone else’s discards, noted Joseph Rwagatare, a columnist for The New Times, a Rwanda based news outlet.Once these discarded clothes hit East African shores, they sell for extremely low prices: For example, a pair of used jeans can be as little as $1.50 in the Gikomba Market, East Africa’s biggest secondhand clothing market, located in Nairobi, Kenya.Rock bottom prices make locally made clothes look too expensive by comparison,Joseph Nyagari of the African Cotton Textiles Industries Federation told Think Progress last year.”The average cost of a secondhand garment is between five and 10 percent of a new garment [made in Kenya], so [local industries] can’t compete,” he said.
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