NAIROBI, Aug 11 – A government taskforce established to revitalise the leather sub-sector has developed a new curriculum in leather science technology that will be taught at the university level.
The first beneficiaries of the new curriculum which will be offered at the University of Nairobi (UON) through the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine are certificate holding technical staff working in the hides, skins and leather products industry.
Kenya has been grappling with acute shortage of qualified technical staff to develop the sub-sector, a factor that has severely hampered the growth of the leather industry. This has contributed to the dumping of cheap footwear and leather goods in the country due to the high local manufacturing costs of leather and leather products.
According to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industrialization, Prof John Lonyangapuo, although the leather sub-sector currently earns the country approximately Sh4.5 billion annually, the industry has a high potential of doubling this income if Kenya embraces the necessary value addition practices such as improved leather production skills.
“The new curriculum will upgrade the skills of in-service certificate holders and offer opportunities for higher learning at undergraduate and post graduate levels,” says Prof Lonyangapuo.
The new graduates will then be expected to provide extension services to pastoralists especially those living in the Arid and Semi Arid Areas (ASALs) in a bid to promote improved animal health and production. The leather sector will also benefit from advanced tanning techniques and practices.
In order to improve the economic performance of the leather sub-sector, the industry is gearing itself towards export orientation so as to generate the much needed foreign earnings as well as increase local consumption of leather products for the continued stabilization and enhancement of growth in the industry. The Ministry of Livestock Development is therefore rooting for the revival of cottage industries as a step towards promoting rural development.
“This will increase the ‘income basket’ of our people and induce rural development particularly in the ASALs,” notes Kenneth Lusaka, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Livestock Development. The development of cottage industries in the country is in line with the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Competitiveness Project’s primary objective to increase growth and competitiveness of MSME’s in Kenya.
For four years now, the Project implemented by the Ministry of Industrialization through funding from the World Bank, has been addressing market failures that limit the ability of MSMEs to obtain necessary skills and business services to exploit opportunities and overcome bottlenecks in the business environment.