According to Chris Simba, of the Kenya Market Trust, Kenya’s hides and skins subsector is underutilised, with the bulk of products being neglected to waste or being sold at throwaway prices. This is despite an increased demand for hides and skins both in the region and globally.
The CEO of the Kenya Leather Development Council, Isaac Noor, said Kenya exports 90% of its leather in raw form (semi-processed wet blue) while just 10% is exported as a finished product.
The global leather industry is worth in excess of $150 billion, but Africa commands only 4%, with Kenya is commanding less than 1%. Simba attributed this to limited incentives to invest in tanneries and leather manufacturing plants, "yet this has the potential to turn around the economies of several counties and the entire nation".
He said despite the liberalisation of the livestock subsector and agriculture, the market structure remains uncompetitive with a few players participating in livestock markets as well as the tanning segments of the value chain.
“There is a need for the government to shift from the traditional policy formulation to the adoption of new roles to respond effectively to rapidly evolving market conditions,” he said.