Govt unveils team to fast-track leather sector growth

A commitment by the Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development to spearhead local leather industry recovery efforts, has received a further shot in the arm following the naming of an nine-member task force.

The Task Force committee named by Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Adan Mohamed, comprises of leading local leather sector players from the private and public sector.

The team to be known as the Leather Development Taskforce will serve for a one year team with a mandate to oversee the implementation of the leather development strategy.

Speaking when he unveiled the Task Force members Friday morning, Mohamed reiterated the ministry’s push to have the public sector leather needs met by local suppliers and producers.

Among other strategies, the taskforce, he explained will map out avenues to ensure the efficient delivery and supply of leather products required by public sector consumers such as the Armed Forces and National Police Service among others.

“This Task force, has been appointed with a clear brief to share their wealth of experience on how the leather sector can be sustainably developed to create jobs and facilitate development of the leather sector in Kenya,” Mohamed said.

The taskforce will also evaluate viable models to be adopted in an engagement programme with the Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development and county governments geared at encouraging them (county governments) to establish modern abattoirs’ and regional tanneries in their respective areas.

Those appointed to the Leather Development Task Force include; Bata Shoe Company CEO Mr. Alberto Errico, Dr. Samuel Kiruthu, a director at Leather Technologies and Fashions Limited, Alpharama Limited Managing Director, Mr. Sambasiva Rao and the Acting Secretary and CEO at the Kenya Leather Development Council, Mr. John Muriuki.

Other members, are The Director of Industries, Mr. Erastus Kimuri, veteran Leather Trader, Mr. Robert Njoka and Sagana Tanneries Executive Director, Mr. Yassin Awale, Leading leather goods lady entrepreneurs, Ms. Nalina Rupani and Ms. Mumtaz Mughal, of Leather Life EPZ.

As a key pillar of the National Industrialization Roadmap, the local leather industry, Mohamed noted, has a capacity to make a significant economic contribution of up to $630million of the GDP.

Despite a heavy demand of up to 28million units of leather, Mohamed expressed regret that the demand is still served by imported supplies due to an existing deficit of more than 24 Million units against the current local supply of less than 4million units annually.

The semi-arid lands of Kenya, he noted are ideal production zones for quality leather and deserve to be tapped for growth and development.

“The government will spare no effort to ensure that we revive and strengthen the local leather industry for our domestic consumption and export,” Mohamed said. And added; “With the global leather demand now estimated at more than US$ 60Billion, we must work hard to grab a share of the cake.”

The local leather production capacity, he noted has been progressively hampered by low production capacity at the grassroots’ level. Such lack of capacity, he pointed out leads to more than 85% loss of raw skins due to damage or poor handling during slaughter something that will be a thing of the past given the attention the government has given this sector.