A team of experts from 12 Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) member countries have urged stake holders in the leather industry to provide high value addition to their products.
The experts made the call, yesterday, during the regional forum on leather sector strategy organised by COMESA and the International Trade Centre (ITC) in Kigali.
Speaking at the meeting, Frank D. Mugyenyi the Regional Technical Advisor COMESA programme for Building African Capacity Trade said that, the leather sector was the first to be identified by COMESA as a key plank in pulling many in arid and semi-arid areas out of poverty.
“We are aiming at adding value to our hides and skins, because our region has the highest number of live stock,” he said.
“We should now revalidate the strategy to ensure that it is in line with the programme so that the funding we got from Canada is put to the right use.”
Mugyenyi called upon member countries to promote the production of high quality hides and skins.
He added the most important thing is to attract investment in the sector.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Emmanuel Hategeka, said that hides, skins and leather related industries have a high potential towards commodity development and much is needed in gathering more inputs into the regional leather production strategy.
“The leather industry in Rwanda is still young but when we look at the region which is the focus of this workshop actually Africa possesses 12 to 30 percent of the world’s cattle, sheep and goats.
“That is a huge share of the world’s production of leather and when it comes to value chain, Africa accounts for the lowest share in this multibillion dollar industry,” Hategeka said,
He pointed out that the value chain is becoming a central part of planning and development of leather products industry.
“We expect to provide insights to the elaboration of a regional leather strategy creating international competitive environment as conducive to the development of the leather industry,” Hategeka added.
Hernan A. Manson, the Associate Advisor for Value Development ITC, said that the leather sector has not been given much attention at the national level as well as the regional level, yet yet it is anchor to industrialization, through value addition.