A high-level delegation of producers and manufacturers of a wide range of leather products and accessories from India gave a visit to Uganda in order to seek out joint venture partnerships to benefit the economies of both countries through the leather business.
The delegation also visited selected tanneries and leather processing facilities in the country.
The Indian leather industry is one of the largest in the world and accounts for around 12.93% of the world’s leather production of hides/skins.
Total leather good exports from India stood at $3.05 billion during April-October 2018.
Aqueel Ahmed Panaruma, the chairman of the Council of Leather Exports of India (CLE) who leads of the delegation of 12 Indian businesses pointed out that the visit is a major milestone in efforts to explore opportunities for investment in Uganda’s Leather Sector.
Speaking on behalf of Michael Werikhe, the state minister in the ministry of trade, industry, and cooperatives, Emmanuel Mutahunga, commissioner for external trade noted that Uganda has about 10 tanneries that are open to joint ventures to export to India.
“We are not close to the sea, but we are close to the market. We have a market of about 44.8 million Ugandans. We are also part of the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); the market size is very captivating,” he said.
Ravi Shankar, the high commissioner of India to Uganda and Burundi noted that however India exports so much leather products and accessories, it is still a major consumer as well.
He further continued, "India wants quality products and Uganda produces very high-quality leather. However the market in India is very big, it is important for Indian companies to get a foothold in Uganda where the population is anticipated to reach 75 million in the next 20 years."
Abdul Hakim Sekandi, the Uganda leather, and allied industries association (ULAIA) chairman said that the meeting and possible joint ventures will strengthen the capacity of local tanneries to add value to raw leather.
Ben Naturinda, the SITA national coordinator for Uganda noted that semi-processed leather is by far the most important leather product exported by Uganda worth $53.12m (about sh196.2b) in 2017, most of which was in the form of wet blue semi-processed leather.
He noted that Uganda is one of the biggest exporters of leather in Africa. In 2017, it ranked fourth for the export of behind Ethiopia (3rd), Egypt (2nd), and South Africa (1st).
For the export of leather articles, Uganda was in 13th place behind Cote d’Ivoire (12th) and Ghana (11th) while for footwear it ranked 11th in Africa.