A Sh10 billion leather hub will be built at Kenania, Athi River, from next month in a quest to revive the tanning industry and make Kenya a big exporter of shoes, bags and other products.
Industrialisation secretary Adan Mohamed said that 500 acres of land had been identified for tanneries, a training centre, manufacturing facilities and a waste treatment plant.
The government will provide land and infrastructure, while facilities will be build by private investors.
The hub will target 15 tanneries which will produce 150 tonnes of raw hides per day and manufacturing units that will produce 10,000 pairs of shoes daily, hand bags, leather garments and industrial gloves.
“We want to move the country from an exporter of raw and semi- processed hides and skins to finished leather goods,” said Mr Mohamed, adding that the ground breaking ceremony for the hub was set for next month.
The government recently announced plans to establish more abattoirs and tanneries in various counties to boost production of hides and skins while attracting investors to set up industries.
Kenya’s tanning industry thrived in the 1980s. But the sector has continued to struggle with the withdrawal of the export compensation scheme, which involved paying incentives to leather dealers to promote exports that will ultimately boost foreign exchange.
The sector was also hard-hit by the opening up of the local market to imports through tariff cuts. Official data show that production of finished leather dropped 0.4 per cent last year.