Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Joseph Mwanamvekha says there are plans to revitalise the leather sector by opening tanneries across the country.
Speaking on Thursday in Lilongwe during the launch of Leather Industry Association of Malawi (Liam), the minister said the tanneries will make it possible for businesspeople to sell their animal skins there to ensure that leather products manufacturers find raw materials locally.
Mwanamvekha said government has already discussed with China which is willing to finance such projects.
He said: “I think that we are going to have three tanneries; one in the Lower Shire, another in Central Region and another up North, but the exact places are yet to be worked out.
“We have already had discussions with China and they are sourcing the right machinery in their country.”
Data provided by Small and Medium Enterprise Development Institute (Smedi) show that Malawi loses at least $102 million ( about K74 billion) in the leather sector because the country exports unprocessed animal hides to regional neighbours such as Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Malawi then imports processed leather from the same countries at a higher cost.
Smedi board chairperson Betty Chinyamunyamu said the main reason for exporting unprocessed hides has been lack of tannery and an association which can synchronise activities of small-scale businesses in the leather sector.
She said: “It is estimated that based on its animal resource of bovine and sheep, the leather value chain has the potential of grossing $102 million.
“Further at full potential optimisation, the value chain could contribute 3.9 percent to the county’s gross domestic product [GDP].”
Chinyamunyamu said Liama is expected to help bring sanity in the country’s leather sector.
Currently, Malawi lacks the capacity to process its hides and skins. n