BY MALACHI MOTANO
The Ministry of Industry, Trade Industry and Cooperatives, through its implementing agencies, the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) and the Kenya Leather Development Council (KLDC), have developed the first Kenya Leather Park at Kinanie in Machakos County, in a bid to boost local production of leather in the country
According to the ministry, the development of the Kenya Leather Park has been guided by Kenya’s Vision 2030, the country’s economic development blueprint, that aims to transform Kenya into a newly industrialized, “middle-income country providing a high-quality life to all its citizens by the year 2030”.
According to the Ministry, the Government has given the investment community in the leather sector the first Government led industrial development zone since 1992 when the Export Processing Zones were unveiled.
The Kenya Leather Park (KLP) will be set on a 500-acre site with the aim of encouraging value addition and innovation towards unlocking economic potential of the Leather sector in Kenya. It aims to create an enabling environment for the attraction and facilitation of increased Foreign and Domestic Direct Investments into Kenya.
“Currently 90 per cent of Kenya’s leather exports equivalent to US$94
million are unfinished wet blue leather. Further processing of finished leather and leather goods will create an additional 35,000 jobs which will increase the GDP to between US$150-250 million in GDP .This will also contribute to substituting a portion of US$86 million in shoe imports yearly,” Cabinet secretary for industrialization Adan Mohamed said.
According to the Kenya Leather Industry Diagnosis Strategy and Action Plan, leather demand has risen globally and is expected to continue in the same trend. Leather production globally is at US$100billion with Africa contributing to US$4billion of the production while Kenya contributes a supply of US$140 million of production.
“Kenya is a country with exuberant opportunity that if fully exploited will make the Leather industry more lucrative, therefore attracting investors. Some of these opportunities include availability of raw materials from both local and in the East Africa Community, untapped local and regional market for footwear and leather goods, an environment whereby the middle class is rapidly expanding, a stable and strong political economy, developed financial services among others.”
The development of the Kenya Leather Park is geared towards promoting the sector through facilitating leather footwear manufacturers, leather tanneries, packaging and logistics companies including small and medium enterprises. Other opportunities include a training center, low costs of labor and electricity, EPZ benefits on taxation and trade as well as integrated amenities such as residential complex, schools, health facilities and recreation center.
KLP will comprise a high-tech shared effluent treatment plant with adequate water supply. It will also feature Industrial facilities for tanneries and manufacturers of leather goods and will have showroom facilities to showcase the finished products. The residing areas will also have residential complex, schools, training centres and health facilities.
“The Kenya Leather Park will open various channels for Kenya leather to benefit from as well as drive the economic growth. In line with the economic pillar of Vision 2030 the KLP is one of the key developmental projects that will drive the country in achieving its target of an average economic growth rate of 10 per cent per annum,” the CS added.