Kenya shoe imports increased 17pc in quarter three of last year
Six million pairs of shoes were imported in the third quarter of 2018, translating to a 17 per cent rise.
Traders, the 2018 Quarterly Balance of Payments report by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows, sourced their shoes ahead of December festivities and back-to-school period by paying Sh1.4 billion to foreign shoemakers.
The rise in imports negates ongoing campaigns by leather stakeholders to boost cobblers, small and medium enterprises as well as major shoe factories to raise production to 40 million pairs required annually.
Leather Apex Society of Kenya secretary general Beatrice Mwasi called on leather product manufacturers to unite and push for a review of laws to support local industries as well as ensure all shoemakers properly mark products based on materials used.
“Importers go for resin shoes that are labelled as soft leather duping customers into buying fake leather shoes.
“We must stop this to ensure only quality products are sold to customers as well as nurture the local leather industry, which has been crying foul over the sale of good looking imported shoes that are sold cheaply compared to their genuine leather shoes that fetch tidy sums in the mar-
ket,” she said.
Quarter two data shows imports stood at 5.2 million pairs of shoes valued at Sh1.1 billion, which was a 7.4 per cent fall from the first quarter in which Kenyans paid Sh1.3 billion for 5.8 million pairs.
In November, stakeholders called for enactment of leather quality standards law, saying Kenyans get a raw deal by buying imported resin shoes passed off as ‘quality leather shoes’.
A leather strategy launched eight years ago is still underway with a council formed to drive the development of local industries as well as the establishment of a special economic zone for export-bound leather products.
Raw leather exports dropped by 43.7 per cent in the last three quarters, the lowest reported in the past three years at 4,219 tonnes that earned tanneries Sh779.3 million
Kariokor Cobblers Association spokesman Peter Kitheka said increased exports of semi-processed leather leaves them with poor quality materials for making their products.
Raw leather exports dropped by 43.7 percent in the last three quarters