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By the bootstraps

Updated: 2013-06-14 11:05
By Li Lianxing ( China Daily)

"A production line for finishing leather products is our target. If we can produce more value-added products, profits will grow and more contributions could be attained locally," he says.

A high ranking official from the Chinese Ministry of Industry who did not want to be named says China-Africa Overseas Leather Products is a model tannery in Ethiopia because it brings modern technologies from China to the country's leather industry.

"Most Ethiopian tanneries lack experience and communication with foreign countries. But this company teaches them many latest technologies in leather production and they have gained a lot of experience from it, especially in wastewater treatment," he says.

The company has created healthy competition in Ethiopia, the official says, adding that there are 27 tanneries in the country.

The Ministry of Industry says the subsidiary earned more than $15 million for Ethiopia from its exports in 2012.

He says his ambition is to bring Ethiopian leather not only to the Chinese market, but to the world.

"One of the most renowned leather products companies in Italy is talking about working with us and hopefully we will be able to reach our first European deal by the end of this year."

But his major concern is that the company's expansion will not match the speed of the growth of business and the scale of production.

"For a complete production chain of a piece of finished leather, more than 100 working procedures are involved from start to finish, and each of them takes more than a year's working time for a worker to become familiar with.

"So apart from the current 20 Chinese and 500 local workers, we still need another 500 Ethiopian workers in order to meet the demands."

He believes the future of the leather industry in Ethiopia and his company is promising, but several obstacles are in his way.

"The sense of industrialization is not strong enough at the lower governmental level, which has resulted in less support locally," he says.


( China Daily Africa Weekly 06/14/2013 page16)

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