NAIROBI, April 29 (Xinhua) — Leather traders in East Africa on Thursday launched an online platform in Kenya’s capital Nairobi to boost trade of the product across the region. Beatrice Mwasi, chairperson of Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute – Regional Studio, said the platform known as the Leather Industry Network (LIN)-East Africa will increase trade among partner states of East African Community (EAC).
“The trade in leather and leather products in the East African Community has enormous potential and is growing at an annual average rate of 1.5 percent. LIN-East Africa will be the ultimate gateway to the East African leather sector and an effective tool for boosting trade in leather and leather products,” she said.
The EAC partner states include Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Mwasi, who is also the secretary-general of the Leather Apex Society of Kenya, said the online tool offers leather stakeholders a reliable virtual space to connect, interact and transact business.
She observed that LIN-East Africa will allow consumers to connect conveniently with other market players in the regional leather sector, thus eliminating unnecessary intermediaries.
Mwasi said leather is one of the most traded agro-based commodities in the world, with an annual market value of about 21.5 trillion shillings (200 billion U.S. dollars), noting that the East African leather industry only has annual revenues of 478 million dollars.
According to Mwasi, despite its great potential for growth, the region’s leather sector is faced with multiple challenges including a weak policy environment that discourages investment in value-added products and weak institutional arrangements in enforcing quality and standards in the value chain.