Despite falling raw material numbers and an over-capacity in the tanning industry in Ethiopia three totally new tanneries are due to come on stream in the forthcoming months. A further two more are due to begin construction sometime in 2001.

Batu Tannery

Due to begin trial production this February the Batu Tannery is to produce wet-blue goat, pickled hair sheepskins and semi-finished and finished bovine upper leather during its first phase of operation. The 11,000m² purpose built factory is located approximately 10km from the centre of Addis Ababa.

The tannery will be owned and operated by the Yirga family who also have a number of established businesses including a furniture manufacturing unit as well as a footwear factory, Kangaroo.

The Kangaroo Shoe Factory, also located in Addis Ababa, produces 1,000 pairs of leather uppers a day (mainly men’s) for the domestic market and will represent around 20% of the new tannery’s production.

Initially, the tannery will employ 150 workers and the intention is to increase to 250 when full production is achieved. So far the owners have invested 42 million birr (US$5.1 million) on the project.

‘We intend to produce pickled and tanned skins during the first year of operation before manufacturing our own crust and finished skins for the export market’, says Belachew Yirga, managing director, Batu Tannery. ‘The decision was taken to make our own leather because we cannot find enough good quality and consistently produced leather from our leather suppliers within Ethiopia. It is not also possible to buy finished leather from outside, as the import duty on such items is too high for us’, he added.

The tannery is fitted with the latest tannery machinery and the owners have contracted European and local consultants and technicians to commission the plant. Once up and running the tannery will have the capacity to process 3,000 sheep/goatskins and 300 hides a day.

Colba Tannery

Leather was given exclusive access to Ethiopia’s first integrated meat works and tannery complex. The new plant is located approximately 70km south east of Addis Ababa. The Colba slaughterhouse began processing 3,000 sheep and goat per day in early December and the tannery, which is located on the same site, was due to start operation at the end of the month.

The company is owned by a number of shareholders with the major partner being Ayele Dejne. The new tannery, a 28 million birr (US$3.4 million) investment, will have the capacity to process 3,000 pickled sheep and wet-blue goatskins a day for the export market. Dejne has 35 years experience as a hide and skin trader before embarking on the latest venture.

Skins from the meat works will be processed within hours of slaughter and thus lessening the likelihood of damage from putrefaction – a common problem in Ethiopia. The slaughterhouse has also been built to comply with EU specifications and carcases are chilled within minutes of culling.

Skins are also removed by hand after slaughter, which should improve the overall quality of the final leather.

Akaki Tannery

The Elico Group are Ethiopia’s largest tanning and leather products company and they already have two tanneries located in central Addis Ababa. The new Akaki tannery is under construction close to a number of other tanneries around 10km from the centre of the capital. The tannery is not anticipated to begin processing sheep/goatskins and cow hides until 2002.

When completed the 100,000m² site will be one of Ethiopia’s largest leather production facilities and will process hides and skins from raw to finished leather. The interior of the tannery is already equipped with some of the beamhouse and retanning drums from Olcina and Vallero respectively as well as 13 machines which have not been removed from their packing cases.

Elico intend to shift some of their processing from the other tanneries as well as increase more of their production from semi-finished to crust and finished leather.