The cost of leather production in the country could come down significantly as Kenya commences works on a 500-acre Leather Industrial Park (LIP) in Kinanie, Machakos County.
Through the Kenya Leather Development Council (KLDC), the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) is constructing a centralised Sh2.2 billion plant in Athi River area where waste from leather factories will be channelled to.
On completion, the project, whose first phase is currently ongoing, is further expected to cut by half the associated costs of handling and processing leather, as well as support industry players to compete efficiently on the global markets.
Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed said yesterday that his ministry has asked the National Treasury to consider duty-free import of raw materials and wet blue hides and skins, tanning machinery and accessories into the country, in a move expected to boost the sector while at the same time charming investments, both foreign and local.
“We are talking with Treasury to allow duty-free on accessories and on imports of raw materials used in leather production,” said Mohammed, during the launch of Leather Industry Strategic Plan (2017-2022), being spearheaded by KLDC.
It is hoped that implementation of the blueprint will provide a road map for faster development of the leather sector in raising funds from the government and development partners which will transform the country into a regional leather manufacturing hub.
Setting up a waste plant is one of the most expensive undertakings in establishing a leather factory because it consumes huge amounts of water and electricity.
Nearly 35,000 Kenyans stand to benefit from the project through employment opportunities. The development will also house a training centre, packaging and logistics company, leather chemical storage and distribution units and business centres and other facilities such as residential complex, schools and health amenities.
The Kenyan government is betting on the Machakos plant and the availability of right policies to establish a competitive leather sector that will compete with countries such as Ethiopia and one that is capable of appealing to global investors.
The government is also banking on a new legislation, that seeks to give KLDC more supervisory authority, to favourably regulate the sector, whose absence is said to be the stumbling block in the sector’s growth.
“We hope the Bill will be presented to the Cabinet for endorsement and later in Parliament for debate. The existence of such law will give us more regulatory powers to supervise activities in the sector and to come up with other policies in promoting the sector,” said KDLC chairman Titus Ibui.