Ethiopia’s leather industry has experienced remarkable transformation over the last two decades to become an important and strategic sector in the country’s social, economic and industrial growth.
This tremendous growth of the Ethiopian labor industry has largely been attributed to the abundance of raw materials, favorable government policies and incentives to foreign direct investments (FDIs). With about 57.83 million cattle, 28.04 million sheep and 28.61 million head of goats, Ethiopia has the largest cattle population in Africa and the second largest total population of livestock in Africa (after Nigeria), ranking eighth globally.
Livestock keepers help the country produce about eight million cowhides, 12 million sheepskins and eight million goatskins annually. Ethiopian hides and skins, especially those from highland sheepskins have a worldwide reputation for quality, thickness, flexibility, strength, compact structure, and a clean inner surface. To discourage export of hides and skins and boost exports of valueadded products, the Ethiopian government in 2008 imposed 150% taxation on semi-processed leather exports.
Before 2008, tanneries exported large quantities of wet blue and semi-processed skins. This development strategy created a path for the transformation of the local leather industry, which mostly consists of transforming leather into shoes, leather garments, stitched upholstery, backpacks, handbags, luggage, travel goods, purses and gloves. To attract FDIs, the Ethiopian government went further and workers arrange shoes made at a factory established through foreign direct investment policies adopted by the Ethiopian government.
By Wandera Ojanji