The war in Tigray has caused the destruction of the Sheba Leather Industries, leather cluster that exported shoes, handbags, and accessories. News come from the Confederation of Ethiopian Unions (CETU), reported by newspaper The Reporter. Sheba is one of the 16 companies part of the Endowment Fund for Rehabilitation of Tigray conglomerate, previously owned by the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF), and for 4 years now a public enterprise. The company was founded in 2004 with 93 million birr (about 1.6 million euro at the current exchange rate), Before the start of the war, Sheba employed 1,200 people.
Goodbye to the leather cluster
The war in Tigray started in 2018 as a dispute between the federal government and the administrating entity of the region led by the TPLF. Later on, it involved the army of nearby country Eritrea and the paramilitary group Fano, against the TPLF forces. A delegation of 21 members led by CETU’s president Kassahun Follo, visited Tigray to evaluate the status of the cluster.
Sheba Leather looks to be completely destructed, while no news has been received over what happened to the 1,200 people working there. “We saw it with our own eyes – stated Kassahun to The Reporter –. Nothing was saved. Bombs devastated every portion of the factory”. Sheba, known for its leather goods made with ovine hides, exported products to the USA thanks to the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) before the war.
What would be needed to recover
“On the basis of current prices – said Kassahun –, we need about 2.9 million birr (about 50 million euro) to rebuild the site”. The war caused damages to the textile company Almeda as well: “Before the war – concluded Kassahun – Almeda was employing about 5,000 people, all now unemployed due to the destruction of the plant”.
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