Smuggling of raw skins key challenge in leather industry 

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Smuggling of skins and hides to other countries remains the biggest challenge for local tanneries.

Leather processors are calling on the government to intensify efforts to combat the vice which is estimated to cost Kenya 200 billion shillings annually.

Reddamac Chief Executive Officer Robert Njoka says local leather processors have the capacity to absorb locally produced skins and hides even as cheap leather products imports also threaten the sector.

Fresh hides from across the country make their way here at the redmacc leather tannery. It is one heap after another and this requires sorting.

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At least 42 chemicals are used to treat the hides. Reddamac is one of the few tanneries still up and running after others shut down.

It is only recently that the government outlined a roadmap to revitalize the industry.

Put up at a cost of 5 billion shillings, the factory processes the leather in-house to produce footware.

However, despite the government increasing export levy on raw hides and skins from 40 percent to 80 percent, smuggling still remains the biggest impediment.

Njoka says a presidential directive to source all military gear locally is a boost to local manufacturers.

Reddamac currently produces 200 footwear daily, with a target to expand the production tenfold.

The firm however wants to be protected from cheap imports.

90 percent of the firm’s leather products are exported with the remaining 10 percent sold locally.

 

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