• The Ministry of Industry and Enterprise Development has constructed a new leather tanning and processing industry in Kenya at the cost of Sh1.9 billion ($18.7 million).

    In an article by the Standard Digital News, already, Sh800 million ($7.8 million) has been used on construction and the equipping phase-one of the facility, Industrial Research and Development Institute (Kirdi) Acting CEO, Joseph Kamau, said.

    According to Mr Kamau, the ministry is looking at equipping five areas: leather, food technology, energy, natural products and analytical laboratories. He said the new Kibos-based center in Kisumu county, is targeting clients from Western and by extension, countries within the East Africa Community (EAC).

    “Construction of the leather tanning and processing industry is complete. Some of the equipment has already been delivered,” said Principal Secretary in the State Department of Industry, Julius Korir.

    The facility will, however, take a little longer to operate as there have been some delays experienced. 

    “There was a slight delay in dispatch while importing the machines. But we promise that the consignment will be here by next month,” he said while addressing jua kali (informal) artisans in Kisumu.

    The leather industry in Kenya has not been contributing greatly to the country’s economy despite the fact that it has the potential to do that, according to a World Bank report.

    “Kenya’s market share has been eroded by imports of new low-cost leather footwear, mainly from China and India, as well as donated, second-hand footwear (mitumba),” part of the report reads.

    However, this is set to change as the PS remarked that the ministry is also putting up a facility to produce shoes and belts in Kariokor, Nairobi. 

    “We will work together with Kisumu County government and jua kali artisans, and also work through the National Budget to develop a business model to operationalize facilities under construction,” he said.

    On his part, Kisumu Centre Juakali Artisans Association Chairman Jacob Ouma asked the Industrialization ministry to help them access modern state-of-the-art machinery and technology to enable them to produce quality goods for export. He also requested that the government intervenes and gives them (artisans) opportunity to build their capacity through exposure to exchange programs overseas.

    Mr Ouma also noted that trade fairs would give them a platform to display their wares to a large clientele. Additionally, he said that building an examination center within the jua kali area will enable more trainees to sit for trade tests to boost their credentials.

    The Kinanie -500ha leather industrial park

    Last year, The Ministry of Industrialization gave the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA) a go-ahead to build an industrial park in Athi River, 35 kilometers from Nairobi.

    The 500 hectares leather industrial park which will host tanneries and value addition facilities will be constructed at Kinanie in Machakos County.

    Industrialization Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed in an article by Business Daily said the leather industrial park is one way to address the trade deficit and raise exports by about $1 billion.

    The Kinanie leather industrial park proposes phased development of 36 tanneries on 1ha plots, complemented by eight leather value addition parks.

    In the initial phase, 20 tanneries are set to be developed. This will see each tannery producing about 10 tons of raw hides and skins daily, and an output of 10,000 pairs of shoes, handbags, leather garments and industrial gloves.

    With such plans underway, Kenya is set to export more finished leather products than the the current wet blue (semi-processed) or raw leather. This will then boost the country’s leather sector to generate 10 times more than the current standing of $100 billion annually.


    Image Credit: Design Lines