Exporters in India have already identified Africa, with its huge livestock population, as a good source of hides and skins. Ethiopia and Kenya are among the largest producers of raw leather in Africa.
Leather industry sources said in Chennai that the Indian exporters are exploring joint ventures with African companies looking for technical assistance, know-how and investments. These JVs would convert raw hides and skins into semi-finished leather for shipment to India.
Research studies and news reports have shown that Africa is fast emerging as one of the future markets for
sourcing quality leather and hides for the booming global leather industry.
Leather and leather products are among the most widely traded and universally used commodities in the world. Already, the total value of annual trade is estimated at 1.5 times the value of the meat trade; more than five times that of coffee and more than eight times that of rice.
Formal international trade in leather and leather goods is estimated at over US$ 50 billion a year and the market is far from saturated. In the next decade, the demand for leather raw materials (hides) and finished products may exceed supply – making the leather industry one of the most lucrative business sectors in the years to come.
Africa’s abundance of livestock represents a natural strength for the sector, as leather is a by-product of the meat industry. Africa has about 15 per cent of the world’s cattle population, a percentage that grew by about a quarter over the last decade, overtaking the global trend.
Similarly, Africa possesses about 25 per cent of the world’s sheep and goat population. This puts African at the
centre of the booming leather industry as a key supplier of hides and raw materials to the growing industry of leather and leather goods.