New Leather Studio Targeting COMESA Opens in Mombasa

1878 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Mwinyikione Mwinyihija, the Executive Director of COMESAs Leather and Leather Products Institute said the leather sector in Eastern and Southern Africa has great potential to deliver the much needed linkages into global value chains.

An eastern and southern African regional leather design studio has opened in Mombasa-Kenya to address long standing design weaknesses and improve market entry of the region's leather and leather products.

The studio is a brainchild of the Commonwealth Secretariat's Trade Competitiveness Section, in partnership with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)'s Leather and Leather Products Institute. Its launch was followed by a four-day training workshop in Creative and Technical Design at Mombasa Continental Resort.

The designers' training workshop brings together more than 50 participants representing national, regional and international partners in the leather sector in Swaziland, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Burundi and Rwanda.

Once established, the regional design leather studio is expected to provide enterprises in the COMESA Region with the ability to use design strategically to open and transform new opportunities within a continually changing business landscape.

The leather industry in Eastern and Southern Africa is sizeable, providing employment to a large section of workers. Growth in the sector would be of significant economic benefit to a number of countries.

Rashmi Banga, the Head of Trade Competitiveness at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said the leather studio is an exciting and important project that promises to increase economic growth in Eastern and Southern Africa.

According to Banga, they have identified what is missing in terms of production, skills and training and come up with a solution that will advance the industry and bring about greater prosperity.

Presently, eastern and southern Africa is the largest source of the basic raw material in the global leather industry, but the leather is exported with little value addition. 

Experts says exporting the raw material can be counterproductive for countries because they get stuck at the bottom end of the value chain and continue to export low-end, low value goods.

Over the last two decades, the region's import of finished leather goods has been steadily rising, demonstrating that there is an established domestic market.

Mwinyikione Mwinyihija, the Executive Director of COMESA's Leather and Leather Products Institute said the leather sector in Eastern and Southern Africa has great potential to deliver the much needed linkages into global value chains.

He said this will have a huge ‘trickling down' effect, increasing economic prospects for our rural and pastoral communities."
Figures from Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) indicate that Uganda has a population of over 10 million cattle, over two million sheep and over six million goats, giving the country over three million hides per annum.

Francis Odongo, the leather desk officer in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, said Uganda generates over 40 million dollars, equivalent to over 130 billion Shillings in revenues, annually.

Most of the leather, about 88 percent, is exported in raw form, mainly air-dried and some, wet-salted.

The existing leather capacity is limited to only one tannery for hides and skins from cattle, goats and sheep with an installed capacity of 150,000 hides and 500,000 skins per year, and one fish skin tannery.


About the author

David Rupiny
In his own words, David Rupiny says, "I am literally a self-trained journalist with over 12 years of experience. Add the formative, student days then I can trace my journalism roots to 1988 when as a fresher in Ordinary Level I used to report for The Giraffe News at St Aloysius College Nyapea in northern Uganda.

In addition to URN for which I have worked for five years now, I have had stints at Radio Paidha, Radio Pacis, Nile FM and KFM. I have also contributed stories for The Crusader, The New Vision and The Monitor. I have also been a contributor for international news organisations like the BBC and Institute for War and Peace Reporting. I am also a local stringer for Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

I am also a media entrepreneur. I founded The West Niler newspaper and now runs Rainbow Media Corporation (Rainbow Radio 88.2 FM in Nebbi). My areas of interest are conflict and peacebuilding, business, climate change, health and children and young people, among others."