Kenya Aims to Double Leather Production and Create 100,000 New Jobs by End of 2024

In a significant move to boost Kenya’s leather industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has launched a collaborative initiative with the private sector aimed at doubling leather production by the end of 2024.

This ambitious plan is set to create approximately 100,000 new jobs, significantly impacting the local economy and the leather industry’s growth.

During a recent visit to the Kitengela Prison Leather Tannery, Livestock Development Principal Secretary Jonathan Mueke underscored the critical need to transform the leather industry into a substantial job creator.

“As we are reviving the leather sector, we found that there is a huge demand for leather finished goods in Kenya. So, we are working with the private sector to increase value addition and create jobs,”

Mueke stated

The nationwide tannery revival initiative has commenced with the inspection and upgrading of the Kitengela tannery. A comprehensive audit of all machinery across tanneries will determine the total costs required to make them fully operational.

Furthermore, the sector plans to implement training programs for leather technicians, focusing on modern leather-making techniques and leather technology advancements.

Despite Kenya’s status as a net importer of leather and footwear goods, valued at approximately Sh9 billion (approxi US$70 Million), the renewed focus from the government aims to reverse this trend.

The Kenya Leather Development Council reports that there are currently 15 tanneries across the country. The state plans to establish more common treatment plants and leather industry clusters in regions such as Athi River, Narok, Isiolo, Wajir, Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret, and Mariakani to strengthen market linkages both locally and internationally.

The leather sub-sector currently employs about 17,000 people directly, with 7,000 in the formal sector and 10,000 in the informal sector within tanneries, leather goods, and footwear manufacturing.

According to the latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Economic Survey 2024, the leather and related products sub-sector experienced substantial growth, posting a 21.7% increase in 2023 compared to a 2.4% growth in 2022.

The remarkable growth in the leather and related products sector is mainly attributed to a 27.5% increase in the production of footwear with leather uppers. Additionally, the production of finished leather goods such as handbags, wallets, and shoes expanded by 19.4% during the same period.

However, the sector faced challenges, including high production costs, leading to a 19% contraction in jobs within the leather value chain, reducing the number of employees to 1,303 in 2023.

Experts project that the global leather goods market will experience a growth rate of 6.2% between 2020 and 2025. This forecast, combined with the Kenyan government’s proactive measures, underscores the potential for significant advancements in the local leather industry.

In conclusion, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development’s initiative to double leather production by the end of 2024 marks a pivotal step towards revitalizing Kenya’s leather industry. By partnering with the private sector, focusing on value addition, and implementing comprehensive training programs, Kenya is poised to transform its leather industry into a major job creator and economic contributor.

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