Malawi undeniably makes the most negative headlines, but news coming out of the commercial city of Malawi is refreshing as a leather shoe studio, operated by local Malawians with funding from the European Union through the Malawi Enterprise Productivity Enhancement under the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Regional Integration Support Mechanism initiative, has the capacity to make 400 leather shoes in eight hours.
Speaking in an interview when the Minister of Trade and Industry Simplex Chithyola visited the factory, Small and Medium Enterprises board chairperson Henry Chete said power challenges is constraining the factory from producing on a full scale.
He said: “We have serious issues with power outages, market, and demand but the machines are strong and capable.
“If all the machines are running and with adequate human resources, the machine can produce 400 pairs of shoes in eight hours.”
One of the officials at the facility said there is only one skilled shoemaker operating over 30 machines amid persistent power blackouts.
Said the official: “On some days, we can make just a pair in a day because there is no order, but we can go up to 20 pairs in a day.”.
On his part, Minister of Trade and Industry Simplex Chithyola Banda said there is a need to popularise the studio in line with the Buy Malawi Strategy.
He said: “Government is spending a lot of money importing boots, shoes, and other products while we have facilities locally that can supply good products.
“Power is a means of production and it is high time we had backup power if such initiatives were to thrive. Government will be doing all it can to provide sustainable power.”
Banda said the shoes produced at the facility can be exported to countries such as Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania as they are durable and of good quality.