The Seventh Session focused heavily on the African continent and discussed three projects, one currently under implementation and two more which are being prepared but have not yet been approved for funding by the CFC.

Africa produces roughly 6% of the world’s bovine hides, 20% of goat skins and 15% of ovine skins. Yet in terms of revenues, Africa only earns 1.3% of the total world trade of bovine hides, 6.6% of goat skins and 0.5% of ovine skins. Africa has the potential to produce 6.6 million ovine skins and 1.2 million bovine hides at an estimated value of US$56.8 million.

The quality of raw hides and skins in the region has been a major obstacle to the development of the leather sector. At the Sixth Session held in Cape Town, South Africa, in November 1998, the Sub-Group endorsed the project proposal ‘Raw hides and skins grading and pricing system in selected African countries’.

The scheme, involving Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, is already underway, although the Project Executing Agency (PEA), in this case the Eastern and Southern African Leather Industry Association (ESALIA), has reported that some activities in Zambia are behind schedule.

The CFC Quality Mark will be used on hides and skins that meet both local and international standards and has been designed to be used as a marketing tool for tanners to identify and differentiate themselves from those who fail to follow the guidelines.

The varying quality of material produced at slaughterhouses has also led to the creation of a Slaughter House Index (SHI). The index differentiates between slaughterhouses that are producing high quality from those producing inferior quality material. The index allows traders to price the material from a certain slaughterhouse and aims at promoting competition within the region.

Plans for the proposed Leather Technology Training Institute in Ethiopia are well underway and aim to provide training activities and develop a pool of qualified personnel in the region.

The Sub-Group has agreed to continue with the project and to extend it to include wet-blue grading. Eventually the results of the pilot scheme will be available to all African countries so as to provide technical assistance to all national associations.

The second project centres on the lack of competitiveness in Africa in both the national and international markets which has become a major problem and has led to the unfortunate collapse of many small scale industries.

The updated proposal ‘Adding Value on African Leather: Improvement of Leather Products Manufacturing in Selected Comesa Countries, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Zimbabwe’ has been submitted to the CFC for the third time. The proposal has been prepared by the Leather and Leather Products Institute (LLPI) and Esalia and is currently being split into two phases for resubmission later this year.

The third project proposal was prepared by the government of Mali and modified as requested by the Sub-Group at its 6th session in South Africa. Phase one of the proposal is for the ‘Development of Professional Partnership in the Hides and Skins Sector in Western African Countries’ and located in Mali and Mauritania.

Phase two intends to improve the quality of leathers and skins and develop the leather industry in central and west Africa. The estimated cost of the project is US$9 million.


The aim of the proposal is to secure technical and financial assistance for the countries that need to improve their production and commercialisation of leathers and skins, notably Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.

Livestock has always played an important role in these countries, but in the Republic of Mali for example, export figures have fallen over the past few years because of the strength of the gold industry and represented just 8.6% of the country’s total exports in 1998.

Another problem is that the country lacks the infrastructure and facilities to care for the animals, receives little financial support for the slaughter process, and is provided with insufficient information on the internal and external meat markets.

This is also the case across the whole region, where commerce is under-developed and the low exchange rate between these countries and the rest of the world means that competition is practically non-existent. The skins and leather industries represent a real opportunity for economic development. However, as it stands, the poor quality and lack of business acumen in the region translate into a loss in revenue of roughly US$50 million per year.

The project will provide slaughterhouses with information on how and when to select animals for slaughter, and on the meat market and issues such as availability and price. If the project is given the go-ahead, the money will be invested in new equipment for the livestock market, the improvement of slaughterhouses and the subsequent transformation of the carcase byproducts.

The estimated US$9 million project will take place at Ségou where all the necessary equipment is already in place.

The first phase is to establish a network of professionals and professional organisations that will help industry workers take more responsibility in their professions. The Mutuelle des Professionnels des Cuirs et Peaux du Mali (MPCP) will be the focal point of the network and will develop relations with similar organisations in the project area.

MPCP will also create a regional structure and establish a database analysing the leather industries in each country. In addition, a document will be produced to identify the difficulties in improving the quality of the skins and leathers and will suggest appropriate solutions.

Once the new network of professionals is in place, phase two intends to improve the quality of the raw materials and the tanning process of hides and skins, and develop and increase trade between the countries concerned. Training will be given to livestock farmers, slaughtermen and tanners to improve working conditions with the aim of creating a local infrastructure of professional workers.

The proposal aims to prepare and distribute instruction manuals and audiovisual aids on correct slaughter methods and production techniques so as to improve the quality of the leathers and skins. A universal classification system will also be introduced.

Essentially, the project aims to fight poverty in the region. Livestock farmers, slaughtermen and tanners will see their revenues climb, leather traders will witness an increase in production in the area and tanners will benefit from the increased quality of the skins and hides. Looking at the bigger picture, the local population will benefit from the creation of more jobs and the country will witness an increase in capital to reinvest into the industry, and so the circle will continue.