Rwanda Leather Industry, the country’s only leather company, is expecting increased production after the arrival of some 15 new leather processing machines.
The machines were imported from the Netherlands and according to Gitau Wamukui, chief executive of Rwanda Leather Industries, the industry aims to be exporting processed leather by March 2008.
The machines will have the capacity to produce 10,000 pieces of hide and 25,000 skins per month.
“We want to have a mixture of three products: unprocessed (wet blue), semi- processed (crust) and processed leather because of the different markets and prices.” Wamukui said.
After full installation of the machines, Wamukui said that they intend to export two containers of unprocessed leather and one each of semi-processed and processed leather per month.
“Most of the machines have arrived in Rwanda and we have started testing their operating capacity and once all are fully installed we hope to export the first consignment by March,” said Wamukui.
Rwandan wet blue leather is exported to India, China, Hong Kong, Kenya, and Italy. Rwanda Leather Industries, with the help of an Italian leather company, is exploring potential markets in Europe for semi- processed and processed leather.
According to Niyamathulla Jalal, an expert in charge of quality control and production, between 20 and 35 people are to be trained in operating the machines.
“Rwanda’s leather has a bright future, in a period of three years I am confident that it will have penetrated the European market,” Jalal said.
Jalal, who has been in the leather industry in India for over 30 years, said that Rwandan skins and hides are superior to those from India and other countries due to good climate.
It is hoped that Rwanda will be able to compete in the international leather market.