About African Leather Industry

Africa is fast emerging as one of the future markets for sourcing quality leather and hides for the booming global leather industry. Leather and leather products are among the most widely traded and universally used commodities in the world. Already, the total value of annual trade is estimated at 1.5 times the value of the meat trade; more than five times that of coffee and more than eight times that of rice.

Formal international trade in leather and leather goods is estimated at over US$ 50 billion a year and the market is far from saturated. In the next decade, the demand for leather raw materials (hides) and finished products may exceed supply – making the leather industry one of the most lucrative business sectors in the years to come.

Africa – a key supplier of hides and raw materials

Africa’s abundance of livestock represents a natural strength for the sector, as leather is a by-product of the meat industry. Africa has about 15 percent of the world’s cattle population, a percentage that grew by about a quarter over the last decade, overtaking the global trend. Similarly, Africa possesses about 25 percent of the world’s sheep and goat population. This puts Africa at the centre of the booming leather industry as a key supplier of hides and raw materials to the growing industry of leather and leather goods.

Countries in the Horn of Africa are one of the largest exporters of livestock, specially to the Middle East countries. For Ethiopia, for example, livestock and livestock products are the major leather hides africaforeign exchange earners, second only to coffee, with hides and skins contributing the most.