THE government yesterday launched a leather sector development strategy in a bid to address challenges besetting the industry, chief among them being financial constraints and policy inconsistencies.
Report by Gamma Mudarikiri
Speaking at the launch of the policy, Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube said the strategy was in line with the industrial policy and the Medium-Term Plan, which is aimed at reviving the economy.
Ncube said the government requested the assistance of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the International Trade Centre (ITC), to provide the technical and financial support to craft the Zimbabwe Leather and Leather Products Strategy.
“Accordingly and in the concrete vein to implement these sector-specific policies, Comesa acceded to our request to assist both technically and financially to craft the strategy,” he said.
“The leather sector strategy is the resultant stakeholders’ evaluation of market potential, profitability of business supply
side constraints and sector dynamics.”
The leather sector development strategy was facilitated by ITC, Comesa and Sadc countries following a round table meeting to bring together private and public sector actors with the objective of identifying the main constraints in different sectors of the economy.
The main objective of the strategy is to transform the Zimbabwe leather value chain from the production and export of raw materials and partly processed products to the production and export of value added products such as finished leather footwear and other garments.
The strategy will be implemented until 2017. It seeks to improve the leather sector in Zimbabwe to generate $116 million in revenue by 2017 compared to $82 million in 2011 at current sales and margins.
The sector’s growth continues to be thwarted by cheap imports from foreign markets like China and South Africa, among other countries.
An estimated 1 168 companies are operational in Zimbabwe providing employment of approximately 5 610 people.
Speaking at the same event, Comesa secretary-general Sindiso Ngwenya said they would soon be looking at measures to finance small-scale enterprises dealing with leather products.