, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 23- Earnings from the leather industry are expected to hit over Sh8 billion in the next two years from the current Sh6 billion.
Kenya Leather Development Council CEO Mwinyinja Mwinyikionye says the growth will be accelerated by the construction of six new leather tanneries starting this June in various parts of the country, which will increase manufacturing and value addition of leather products.
Speaking at a leather industry stakeholders forum, Mwinyikionye says the tanneries will be constructed at a cost of Sh25 million each and will be financed by the Treasury under the Economic Stimulus Programme.
“There have been greater interests in leather goods and footwear, and the policies that are being forwarded also are encouraging the leather goods and foot wear industry to thrive.”
He added: “In the last two years, we have moved from Sh2.5 billion to Sh4.5 billion and today as we are talking we are at Sh6 billion. The result that came out from the economic survey indicates that we have even hit the Sh7billion mark, “said Mwinyikionye.
The country has 18 leather tanneries of which only eight are working at less than 30 percent of their capacity.
The tanneries will be constructed in Buna in Wajir district, Wote in Makueni, Isinya in Kajiado district, Mogotio in Baringo district, Kanduyi in Bungoma and in Garissa.
He added that the council also plans to introduce punitive measures in collaboration with the ministry which will include high taxes for exportation of raw hides.
“The paradox now is that we have reached a point where the footwear manufactures are saying that, they cannot see the much of the leather they can use, to produce the shoes. This tells us that our semi processing policies have succeeded, yes, but we need to move up to the higher levels of finished leather. So that the footwear and the leather goods manufacturers, can have more materials to make some of these products.”
He says the key thing that would completely revive the leather industry is focusing on value addition and being able to manufacture leather goods that are competitive internationally considering the good market.
He says currently Kenya has a deficit of over 12 million pairs of shoes, 94 million pairs in the East African region and more than 150 million in the COMESA region.