The COMESA, Leather and Leather Products Institute held a successful Seventh Core Team Meeting in Khartoum, Sudan on the 25th to 26th June 2013.
This Core Team was the most special of all the Core Teams held before for two reasons, which are as follows: it was the first Core Team to be officially open by a Minister and secondly it witnessed the entry into the Core of private sector entrepreneurs.
His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Trade in the Government of the Republic of Sudan, Mr. Osman Omer Elsharif started by welcoming all the delegates, he wished them fruitful deliberations and urged them to take time to sample Khartoum’s areas of tourism attraction. In his address he implored the following important issues:
- Acknowledged the important roles, which the COMESA/LLPI was playing in promoting the improvement of the leather sector;
- Sudan as the major producer of livestock in Africa and the Arab World;
- The Government of Sudan now recognizes hides and skins as a core product; and that
- Sudan was ready to put in place policies and instruments to support the growth of the industry.
In his statement Dr Mwinyihija, who is the director of COMESA/LLPI noted the following important statistical facts about the leather value chain:
- The leather value chain is a US$100bn industry, however Africa and COMESA were contributing 4% and 0.003% respectively;
- The small contribution, was not in tandem with Africa, livestock base, which stands at 21% to the global total;
- The objectives of the meeting was thus to come up with modalities that would enhance the growth of the industry;
- He recommended that there was a need for countries to draw up strategic frameworks that would guide the improvement of their leather sectors and that COMESA/LLPI was ready to offer technical support to Member States.
The new Core Team Members who were officially received are Ms Nalini Rupani from Kenya, Mr George Onyango from Kenya, Mr Petros Semere from Eretria and Mr Gizaw Molla from Ethiopia. Mr Ketano Tezera from Canada and Richard Franklin, were received in absentia. Ms Nalini Rupani was elected by ballot, as the new Chairperson of the Core Team, taking over from Dr Tadesse Mamo, who will now head the Secretariat, which will support the Core Team.
The meeting deliberated on many issues, which included fundraising strategies, challenges and opportunities in Member States and firm level. The meeting made fundamental recommendations that are going to improve fundraising, implementation of projects and competitiveness of the leather sector in the region.
Participants during the Core team meeting took time to do business, as Sudanese Tanners brought leather for showcasing, consequently Core Team Members from the private sector who are involved in the manufacture of leather products bought sample leather. Thus Core Team besides dealing with strategic issues, created a window for business linkage for the private sector. See the picture below: