7 March 2023

The war in Tigray destroyed one of Ethiopia’s leading leather manufacturers, Sheba Leather Industries, according to an assessment conducted by the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Union (CETU).


Sheba is one of 16 enterprises in the Endowment Fund for Rehabilitation of Tigray conglomerate, which was previously owned by the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) before turning public four years ago following a Tigray Council resolution.


In 2004, the firm was founded with a paid-up capital of 93 million birr and was based in Wuqero town, 45 kilometers from Meqelle, Tigray Regional State. It employed at least 1,200 people prior to the outbreak of the war.


The leather factory is one of the industries that has been devastated by the Tigray war, which began in 2018 as a dispute between the federal government and the TPLF-led administration in Tigray. It later involved Eritrean forces and the Fano Militias, who were fighting against the TPLF forces in support of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF).


A delegation of 21 members led by CETU president Kassahun Follo visited Tigray to assess the current state of enterprises. Sheba, according to the delegate’s assessment, has been completely destroyed by the war, and the current status of its 1200 employees is unknown.


“We witnessed it with our own eyes. Nothing has been spared. Bombs have devastated every component of the factory,” Kassahun told The Reporter.


Sheba, renowned for manufacturing leather products from animal hides, mainly goats and sheep, was exporting footwear products to the United States before the outbreak of the war through the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA).


“Based on current market prices, at least 2.9 billion birr is required to reconstruct the factory,” Kassahun stated.


The war has also caused damage to Almeda Textile Factory, another large industry under EFFORT, according to an evaluation conducted by CETU’s Tigray branch office.


“Almeda employed almost 5,000 individuals before to the war, and all of these people have become unemployed as a result of the factory’s destruction from the war,” Kassahun continued.


The textile factory was founded 23 years ago on a 450,000-square-meter of land in Adwa, a town 1,125 kilometers north of Addis Ababa.


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