A multi-agency taskforce has embarked on a training programme targeting local factories and small and medium enterprises in leather processing to adopt cleaner production technologies.
The taskforce includes; National Industrial Research and Development (NIRDA), Rwanda Cleaner Production Centre, Rwanda Agricultural Board, and Rwanda Standards Board.
Officials say that the move is aimed at conserving the environment and reducing the cost of production.
Kampeta Sayinzoga, the Director General of NIRDA, said the move will have multiple impact including conserving the environment and reducing production costs for operators though the production of leather is still low.
She said that some of the clean technologies to be introduced include; energy conservation, design of factories and materials save on cost production, efficient use of water and risk reduction.
Others include, replacing toxic or harmful materials, renewable materials, technology change, re-use and recycling of waste water, and tanning by using vegetation, among others.
“Under the seven year government programme, we are investing a lot of efforts in leather production. We need clean technologies along the whole value chain, from better livestock keeping, slaughtering, and conservation of skins to processing them into finished products. The whole process, if used with clean technologies, would protect environment and save production cost,” she said.
Dr George Nyombaire, the head of research and development coordination department at NIRDA, said that SMEs in leather manufacturing will also receive support to facilitate them in embracing the technologies.
“So far, none of the SMEs, or factories in leather manufacturing meet standards in clean technologies and that is why we have embarked on this training. We are going to prepare a budget so that we call for proposals to be financed,” he said.
So far, there is Kigali Leather Factory in Bugesera District and about 20 small scale leather processing units that mainly use artisanal methods.
Nyombaire added that they would also conduct study tours in countries with developed leather manufacturing such as India, China, and Ethiopia so as to improve their manufacturing skills.
Steven Niyonzima, the coordinator of Rwanda Clean Production Center, a programme under the Trade and Industry ministry said that between 2008 and 2016, industries that had adopted efficient and cleaner production technologies had saved $2.8 million, reduced 3,288 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year and 131,358 cubic meter of waste water, among other benefits.
Germaine Mukashyaka, the Chairperson of Leather value chain platform in Rwanda, said the main challenges along the leather value chain include lack of adequate skills about proper ways of producing quality skins.