Report highlights job creation potential of second-hand clothing industry in Zambia, other Africa countries


A new report provides compelling evidence of the pivotal role the second-hand clothing industry plays in driving job creation, strengthening livelihoods and generating vital revenue streams for African governments.

Commissioned by the international development network Humana People to People, the report was cited by Zambia Monitor on Thursday.

Titled “Job Creation in Africa’s Second-hand Clothing Sector: Evidence from Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia” the report showcased the transformative impact of Africa’s second-hand clothing (SHC) sector on employment and economic development.

Contrary to prevailing misconceptions, the SHC trade was revealed as a vital engine of employment, particularly in countries where non-mechanized agriculture dominated the labor market.

Drawing on case studies from Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, the study found that over 1.28 million people are employed in the SHC sector across these nations.

Each tonne of SHC imported sustains an average of 6.5 jobs, representing up to 25 percent of total services employment in these countries.

Key findings from the report indicate that the SHC sector supports well over 2.5 million people, including dependents, by providing opportunities for income diversification and sustaining household livelihoods.

Additionally, the sector generated over US$73.5 million annually in tax revenues for governments in the five countries, funding essential public services and infrastructure.

“The trade also offers affordable and high-quality clothing options, empowering citizens from low-income households to access essential clothing items,” the report stated.

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Contrary to misconceptions, the report notes that the growth of used clothing imports is not a primary driver of the decline of textile manufacturing in Africa.

The decline is attributed to challenges such as access to raw materials and investment in plant and machinery.

The SHC industry embodies principles of a circular economy, prolonging the life cycle of textiles and promoting sustainability. Supporting its growth could create more green jobs and mitigate environmental impact.

Joseph Feyertag, an independent development economist and author of the report, stated: “The findings of this report highlight the second-hand clothing sector as an important driver of employment in Africa.”

In countries suffering from high levels of extreme poverty, these jobs represent an opportunity to diversify income beyond subsistence farming and provide access to affordable clothing.

“It is time we acknowledge and amplify the value that the SHC sector brings to the table,” Feyertag concluded.

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