DIGITAL SHIFT

Online platform to boost leather trade in East Africa

The platform will allow consumers to connect conveniently with other market players in the regional leather sector

In Summary

• East African leather industry represents about 0.24 percent of the Sh21.5 trillion global market value according to the EAC Leather and Leather Products Strategy and Implementation Roadmap for 2020-2030. 

• The industry has an annual revenue of Sh51 billion, comprising Sh11.4 billion in wet blue and Sh40 billion in finished leather.

A trader works on leather belts at old Kariokor leather market on April 15
HIGH PRODUCTION: A trader works on leather belts at old Kariokor leather market on April 15
Image: COURTESY

The trade in leather and leather products in the East African Community is growing at slow rate of an average rate of 1.5 percent annually.

To boost the trade among EAC partner states, an online platform, the Leather Industry Network platform for the East African region or LIN-East Africa has been launched.  

Beatrice Mwasi, the Director of the Centre for Business Innovation & Training-CBiT said the online platform will be an effective tool for boosting trade in leather and leather products in East Africa.

“It will offer leather stakeholders a reliable virtual space to connect, interact and transact business. The platform will serve as a one-stop shop for information on the sector, including facts and statistics, as well as other quantitative measures for assessing, comparing and tracking performance and production,” she said.

She said the platform will allow consumers to connect conveniently with other market players in the regional leather sector, including manufacturers, agents and the government. This will eliminate unnecessary intermediaries.

“This information is necessary in shaping the industry’s policy direction as well as disseminating market information that is key to improving industry processes so as to better meet the needs of customers,” said Mwasi.

According to the EAC Leather and Leather Products Strategy and Implementation Roadmap for 2020-2030, the East African leather industry represents about 0.24 percent of the Sh21.5 trillion (USD200 billion) global market value. It has an annual revenue of Sh51 billion, comprising Sh11.4 billion in wet blue and Sh40 billion in finished leather.

The report showed that leather is the most traded agro-based commodity in the world, with an annual market value of about USD200 billion.

“This is higher than the revenues generated from coffee, tea, rice, rubber, cotton and sugar combined. The industry’s share of the global market for leather contributes a modest 0.28 percent of the East African Community’s GDP and is in decline,” it stated.

Mwasi said the negative trend does not reflect the true potential in the sector, as resources such as the region’s large population of cows, sheep and goats – estimated by the East African Community Secretariat at 150 million animals in 2013 – are abundant, renewable and readily available.

She pointed out challenges faced by the sector including weak policy environment that discourages investment in value-added products such as footwear and leather goods.

This is in addition to continued exports of critical raw materials, such as hides and skins, and wet blue leather, as well as weak institutional arrangements in enforcing quality and standards in the value chain.