Take advantage of AfCFTA, leather sector urged Dr Mavis Sibanda

Sikhulekelani Moyo, Business Reporter

GOVERNMENT has commended the Support to Industrial and Productive Sector (SIPS) green innovative solutions project saying it stands to enhance the overall quality and competitiveness of the leather sector particularly with the advent of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

SIPS Project aims at promoting green innovative solutions targeting the leather sector in Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

The initiative is being sponsored through funding from the Sadc and its partners and is expected to stimulate job creation, reduce the environmental impact of leather processing and create market linkages for leather products at a domestic, regional, and international level.

In opening remarks read on her behalf by the deputy director of the Department of Quality Assurance in Bulawayo Mrs Mary Chingonzoh, during the ongoing stakeholder engagement meeting which is meant to capacitate experts from tanneries and abattoirs with environment, safety and health issues, in Bulawayo on Monday, Ministry of Industry and Commerce Permanent Secretary Dr Mavis Sibanda said the SIPS projects resonate well with the ministry’s mandate in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1)  of ‘moving the economy up the value chain and structural transformation.’

 “It is pleasing to note that the intervention of Solidaridad Sadc leather value chain SIPS project is meant to promote green innovative solutions in the sector and market linkages of leather products at a domestic, regional, and international level,” said Dr Sibanda.

“With the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) coming soon, the SIPS project will enhance the overall quality of leather and gain competitiveness on export markets.”

Dr Sibanda said there is a need to understand the handling and management of tannery waste to meet local and international compliance with environmental regulations.

Zimbabwe Leather Development Council (ZLDC) under SIPS is running a five-day stakeholder engagement workshop in Bulawayo with three days being set aside for the training of key senior technical staff from tanneries and abattoirs across the country, which is facilitated by the Environmental Management Agency, National Social Security Authority and Bulawayo City Council.

In an interview on the sidelines of the workshop, ZLDC secretary Mr Jacob Nyathi said the key objective of the training is to make the industry appreciate the impact that effluent and other waste materials have on the environment.

The workshop will also provide solutions to negative impacts on workers’ health and environment and the competitiveness of the sector in general.

Mr Nyathi said this will assist to attain global standards of health and environment, which will position local products to the global market.

“As leather value chain which is one of the 10 value chains that have been recognised under NDS, we know that we now have the AfCFTA trade agreement that is in various stages of implementation, which means we can now trade with the whole of the African continent as well as globally.

“To be able to do that as a sector we will need to have a very competitive sector that complies with all international regulations be it in the environment, in the quality spheres, and any other that are demanded by the global market including traceability issues,” said Mr Nyathi.

Solidaridad East Central Africa (Tanzania) and Southern Africa (Zimbabwe) are implementing a Sadc funded Leather project and through the SIPS fund seek to deliver project results under the framework: to promote green innovative solutions in the leather sector of Tanzania and Zimbabwe and create market linkages for leather products at a domestic, regional and international level.

The project, which was launched last year targets 15 small and medium enterprise (SMEs) tanneries (10 Zimbabwe and 5 Tanzania), 30 SME leather product manufacturers (10 Zimbabwe and 20 Tanzania) and 15 clusters of 250 individual micro-leather enterprises’ final beneficiaries. The final beneficiaries are around 2500 workers of the leather tanning and leather product manufacturing companies in Tanzania and Zimbabwe.


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