Short supply of quality leather hinders park plans

Leather tannery
Insufficient supply of quality leather locally has delayed the development of the much-anticipated Leather Park, which has been in the pipeline for the past five years.

Special Economic Zones’ (SEZA) acting CEO, Thatayaone Ndzinge told BusinessWeek that the Leather Park business case had to be reviewed to ensure that the business is profitable.

“We have been working closely with Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) on the leather park, which has been delayed because we had to review the business case,” he said.

According to Ndzinge, it emerged that the leather that is available locally was not enough to run a profitable operation when it comes to the leather park. “We had to look at the region to see if we cannot import leather and subsequently export it, and the business case has been done. We also had to engage clusters of farmers and find out how do we help them improve the quality of their leather because our cattle locally is mostly exposed in the bush and gets scratched from time to time,” he said.

The Leather Park funding and business model was approved last December.

SEZA has also been awarded a tender for the master planning of the Lobatse Economic Zone at P8.5 million, which commenced November last year and is expected to end June 2020.

The master plan is a detailed plan of action and

serves as a blueprint for the future expansion of any organisation and must be directly tied to the core business goals and planning. It covers business case, technical soil investigations, land use plan as well as strategic environmental assessment.

The Leather Park, a Local Enterprise Authority initiative, has been in the pipeline since 2014 with little progress, a fact that has frustrated authorities and residents in the border town.

The project entails development of a complex for different tanneries, supported by the Botswana Meat Commission and primary infrastructure such as a common effluent treatment plant, sewage treatment plant and others.

Government has said the plant could employ up to 10,000 people when fully functional, marking a sustainable economic diversification effort.

The Ministry initially developed the Leather Industry Strategy in 2012. According to the Ministry, the Leather Park is highly technical and needs specialised expertise and experience both at construction and operational stages.

Once operational the Leather Park is expected to provide private sector activities in hides and skins collection, raw to finished leather tanneries and manufacturing of different leather products. These products include shoes, belts, jackets and others thereby playing an instrumental role in stimulating economic activity.




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