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The Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA)
member states are in a bid to entice investors to fund leather processing,
making use of the abundant raw materials supplies and build capacity for export
markets.
The COMESA countries lack capacity to process leather that
can compete on the global level and are hoping that joint ventures will result
in high quality materials for the world market.
The region mainly exports semi-processed leather leading to
loss of revenue and jobs to foreign manufacturers.

“There is need to tap investments in the sector in areas of
leather processing, footwear and leather goods,” said the permanent secretary
ministry of Livestock Development Kenneth Lusaka in a speech read on his behalf.
“We want to create reciprocal interest for joint venture
operations between overseas and COMESA countries, and stakeholders and in
particular with Kenya, Sudan and Uganda,” said Mr Mwinyihija Mwinyikione, the
chief executive of the Kenya Leather Development Council (KLDC).
Mr Mwinyihija was speaking during a leather investors forum
held in Fairview Hotel, Nairobi on Friday. In attendance were investors from
India, China, and other COMESA countries.
The forum was also meant to showcase available opportunities
for direct investments, where foreign investors open their own enterprises as
is presently happening in Ethiopia.
The COMESA sub-region produces 51 per cent of hides 32 per
cent of sheep skin and 38.3 per cent of goat skins of Africa according to data
from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Kenya is in the process of building six more tanneries which
are expected to be complete by year end that will bring to 19 the total number
of tanneries in the country.
The sector currently contributes Sh6.3 billion ($75 million)
to the Kenyan economy and the value is expected to rise to Sh10.5 billion ($125
million) according to the ministry.

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