Tanzania has started a programme to train tailors in anticipation of plans to implement a regional ban on the importation of second-hand clothes and footwear by 2019.

According to the East African, Jenista Mhagama, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office said the training programmes will equip young Tanzanians with tailoring skills. The skilled youths will be employed in clothes and footwear manufacturing factories, which are going to be opened, in line with the government’s industrialisation plan, Mhagama said.

Early this year the East African Community (EAC) approved a proposed ban to boost the manufacturing industry, and help grow the region’s economy.

The import ban is expected to boost Tanzania’s manufacturing industry, create employment, and help grow the economy. With the training, Tanzania becomes one of the first countries in the region to start preparing for the implementation of the ban.

Read: Should the East African Community proceed in banning second-hand clothing?

While the ban has its merits, there are concerns that a blanket ban will hurt the poor. Amidst the growing unemployment and poverty, the importation of second hand clothes provides a lifeline to the unemployed (informal traders), while the cheap clothes, often of high quality are irresistible for customers.

However, the downside of allowing these imports is undoubtedly the slow death of the textile/manufacturing industry and the EAC plans to intervene and revive the dormant industry before it’s too late.

Besides the economic and policy considerations, critics of second-hand clothes and goods often raise the health element and argue the goods are a health hazard, particularly second-hand underwear seen by some as unhygienic.