The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) footwear production deficit is due to lack of effective national policies required to promote local production, officials said on Friday.
COMESA Leather and Leather Products Institute (LLPI) Executive Director Professor Mwinyikione Mwinyihija told Xinhua in Nairobi that the 19-member trading bloc currently has an annual production deficit of 200 million pairs of shoes.
“Due to lack of effective policies to facilitate a vibrant leather processing industry, COMESA is forced to rely on imports in order to meet growing demand,” Mwinyihija said.
He noted that countries such as Kenya used to have vibrant footwear industries but liberalization of the sector led to a decline of the sector as a result of foreign competition.
According to the trading bloc, local producers also face stiff competition from second hands shoes imported into the region.
Mwinyihija said that the region is an importer of footwear despite having abundant livestock which is a raw material for the leather industry.
“Export of raw hides and skins is still common which is denying the region the ability to develop a vibrant leather processing industry,” he said.
COMESA LLPI is currently conducting skills development training programs for each member state so as to improve their capacity in the leather sector.
The aim is for the local footwear industry to adhere to standards so their products can compete with international market,” he said.
The economic bloc has completed a baseline survey for nine countries in the COMESA region that will identify the deficit areas in their supply chain.
According to Mwinyihija, Ethiopia has the most developed footwear industry in the trading bloc but most of its exports are directed to the more lucrative U.S. and EU markets. Enditem