News – Africa

States within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) are following up on commitments made by member governments to purchase 2% of their footwear requirements from small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). The move by Comesa’s Leather and Leather Products Institute (LLPI) is expected to inject around $25 million into this market segment as part of an effort to bring the benefits of growth directly to low-income communities.

The Comesa region has a large market for footwear and finished leather products, with estimates of demand at around 365 million pairs and one billion square feet of leather. The director of the LLPI Prof Mwinyikione Mwinyihija has stated that the organisation will soon engage relevant government departments in a programme to agree quality standards for footwear in order to give the SME sector the right target for meeting demand.

Elements of the initiative, which was formalised in February, have already been put in place through a partnership agreement signed last year between Comesa and the African Management Services Company (AMSCO), under which AMSCO committed to support private sector development and SMEs in particular. LLPI has also given support to the Leather Value Strategy in Zimbabwe and is working with Rwanda, Uganda and Sudan to develop similar programmes.