26 February 2013

Rwanda: Italy Eyes Leather Sector

Kigali — Rwanda's leather industry has caught the eye of Italian investors raising hopes for a future modern leather plant following talks in Kigali recently.

The EABW has gathered that Rwanda's Minister of Trade and Industry, François Kanimba recently hosted a delegation from the Italian government which culminated in the signing of an Agreement with the Italian Trade Commission (ICE) represented by the Director of its Johannesburg Office, Sergio La Verghetta and officials from the Rwandan Association for the Promotion of Leather and Leather Products (RAPROLEP).

The MOU aims at accelerating the operationalization of a Training and Production laboratory for the Footwear and Leather products in the Community Processing Center in Gatsibo District, Eastern Province.

According to the Minister Kanimba the agreement would lead to the establishment of a technical and financial cooperation in the set-up, organization and installation of a Training and production laboratory for the footwear and leather goods industry in the Community Processing Center of Gatsibo District.

"The Italian partners expect to send 24 machines with production capacity of between 60-200 pieces per day latest May, 2013", said Kanimba.

He added that the agreement will also help to transfer and apply advanced Italian technologies and know-how to Rwanda's local industry in terms of development of new product designs, training on new product development and other technical services and technologies in the local footwear and tannery industry.

The Italian delegation was composed of Dr. Sergio La Verghetta who's the Director of the Agency for the promotion of Foreign Trade & the Internationalization of Italian companies (ICE) based at the Italian Trade Commission in Johannesburg; Dr. Carlo Milone, the Secretary General of the International Polytechnic Industrial and Economic Development (PISIE) Italy and Patricio Cioni, the President of PLURIPEL Group, an investor in the tannery sector.

The delegation recently concluded a three day visit in Rwanda in which they held several meetings with different Government institutions.

They revealed that while their initial efforts will go towards supporting the leather community processing center in Rwanda, the private investors PLURIPEL Group also expressed interest in investing in the leather industry to make it bigger and more productive.

A three phase investment entry was proposed with the first one leading to the building of a tannery for production of wet blue for export and 10% of finished leather to supply local market; Phase 2 would see the up-grading of the tannery from production of Wet-blue to finished leather while phase 3 would see the establishment of a shoe factory with other Italian investors in leather products.

If all goes to plan, the parties reckon that phase three would be achieved by 2017 with a fully fledged leather industry.

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