Chad: Mobilizing trade support to move up the leather value chain
In Chad, trade is considered as one of the critical tools to boost economic growth and reduce poverty, with support coming from the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) to move this agenda forward.
As early as 2004, when Chad joined the earlier EIF programme, the Integrated Framework, the programme was instrumental in helping Chad to benefit more from opportunities offered by trade. Through the Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) endorsed in 2006, Chad started to mobilize development partners around priority projects identified in the DTIS Action Matrix to develop productive sectors whose potential was either underdeveloped or completely untapped, especially in the areas of rural development, livestock breeding and handicrafts trade.
In 2009, with support from the earlier EIF programme, Chad undertook a market analysis for the leather value chain and through this, later implemented a project to enhance the technological level and know-how of Chadian leather craftswomen and craftsmen with the view to increasing productivity and improving the quality of leather products on the market.
Chad, a national leather producer, for many years had not been recognized in the region for this trade, because its leather shoe and sandal production was only undertaken in the informal sector. Through the EIF Programme, and with the support of the Consulate of Italy in N'Djamena, networks were established with Italy to take forward the promotion of the leather sector. As a result, Italy donated new production equipment worth an estimated FCFA 32.8 million (approx. US$53,425), making it possible to step up production from 2 to 50 pairs of shoes per day, while ensuring higher quality and improved standardization.
The Chadian footwear production line was launched in June 2014 at the training unit of the N'Djamena Crafts Centre, with support from Italy and the EIF National Implementation Unit. This marked a positive development for Chadian craftswomen and craftsmen. Now the project provides for the installation and commissioning of a complete and fully mechanized and standardized production line for men's, women's and children's shoes and sandals, with the objective to open up Chad's leather and shoe sector to the national and international markets. So far, two categories of machines have been installed: electric machines and manually operated machines.
The project links everyone along the leather value chain, providing raw materials for the footwear manufacturing process and incorporating the hides and skins sector into the process. Over 80 people from the breeders', butchers' and tanners' associations of Chad, who form the upstream part of the production process, are now benefitting from the project, helping to improve the leather produced from Chad's livestock.
Moreover, the programme has also enabled the National Investment and Export Agency to become operational and supported the Farcha Refrigeration Plant in purchasing modern equipment for an abattoir and a slaughter yard in Diguel. At the same time, butchers have been trained in skinning techniques and provided with equipment to help ensure the quality of the meat while preserving the hide, which has considerable export value if properly treated, and which had not previously been the case. The project further ensures that the sector is able to produce leather and hides that meet international market standards to contribute to the diversification of Chad's exports from oil. A modern tannery is being set up in Mandjafa, and five slaughter yards in N'Djamena are being upgraded.
Additionally, the project has also provided a two-week course on footwear manufacturing at the N'Djamena Crafts Centre, given by an Italian trainer to Chadian craftsmen from N'Djamena and 30 leather craftswomen and craftsmen from Abéché and Sarh. Tanners and leather craftsmen have also received training abroad (in Italy and Tunisia), specifically in order to improve their working techniques. This builds on earlier training provided by the EIF programme for craftsmen and butchers.
The two-week course provided a hands-on production experience, from the installation of the production line; presentation of the machines, materials and tools; development (modelling) of different designs and models of footwear; presentation of the different moulds; and the creation of patterns for the different models.
In Chad, the hides and skins sector is now booming, and with time, Chadian craftspeople expect to be able to sell "Made in Chad" footwear across the Central African region, with firm aspirations to sell on the international market.