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The Kenyan government has announced plans to establish a Leather City, a fully-fledged product development facility in Athi River, a town outside capital Nairobi, that will be the first of its kind in the country. The industrial park will be set on 500 acres of land that has been identified in eastern Kenya, which the government is optimistic could generate 10 times the current value of exported raw materials and leather to achieve US1.09 billion in 18 months.
"This is in line with government policies to move the country from an exporter of raw and semi-processed hides and skins to finished leather goods," Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed told journalists in Nairobi on January 13.
Mohamed said the establishment of the Leather City has been endorsed by the government, adding that the initiative is expected to spur investments in value addition for the leather sub-sector.
"As a country, we have abundant supply of raw hides and skins, and the ministry has embarked on plans to establish a world class industrial City in Kenanie, Athi River to move the country from an exporter of raw and semi-processed hides and skins to finished leather goods," he added.
The planned Leather City will feature infrastructure including a common effluent treatment plant (CEPT) as well as carefully integrated leather and leather goods production facilities.
Mohamed said the project will be fully funded by the private sector, in what is a departure from the past, with the government providing land and infrastructure such as the CEPT.
He said the ground-breaking ceremony is set for February. Kenya has in the past established measures to prop up the leather industry, such as increasing export duty on raw hides and skins as well as budget allocations for development of tanneries in rural areas.
The Leather City is expected to generate revenue for the government and create employment opportunities in developing finished leather goods.
The park will house tanneries, a training centre, common manufacturing facilities, chemical storage and distribution units and, leather goods and accessories production units.
The initial phase will target at least 15 tanneries, each with a production capacity of 10 tonnes of raw hides and skins per day and at least 10,000 pairs per day each of shoes, hand bags, leather garments and industrial gloves.
"It will promote research and technological development to enable the country's sector keep abreast with the changing market trends and consumer preferences," Mohamed said.