“Ethiopia is renowned for its livestock of 100 million and its fine leather, especially from the famed hair sheep”, says Stijn van Geel, programme director for Solidaridad in Addis Ababa. “At the same time, few European companies have established direct business relations with Ethiopia yet. We believe there is ample opportunity to build those relations and to have Ethiopia play a more significant role as supplier of leather and leather goods to the European market.”
Room for improvement
The organisations behind the Green Tanning Initiative see a need for certain improvements in the Ethiopian leather industry as well. The programme is aimed at collaborating with Ethiopian abattoirs, tanneries and factories on different SCP practices. Including: improving the selection system for hides, developing tanning-methods using less or even no chrome, salt, water and energy, improving waste treatment and improving working conditions in the whole leather value chain.
Actions planned under the programme include training and coaching of staff at selected Ethiopian abattoirs, tanneries and factories, trade missions and matchmaking with European buyers. The initiative is currently working with a group of five European companies interested in doing business with Ethiopian leather makers, of which three are already procuring leather and leather goods there.
Ethiopia as global leader in environmentally friendly leather products
The Green Tanning Initiative is co-sponsored by the EU’s ‘SWITCH Africa Green’ fund, with the mission of promoting sustainable production and consumption in Africa. This mission is in close alignment with the Ethiopian government’s strategy to stimulate the growth and competitiveness of the Ethiopian leather industry, with the ultimate goal of becoming a global leader in the manufacturing and trading of environmentally friendly and high quality leather products.