Sunderland owner Stewart Donald admitted this week trying to re-sign the veteran striker last summer.
Howe told the Daily Echo: “Jermain has got a big future here.
“He's a very important player for a host of different reasons.
“His experience and wisdom he passes on to the players – he has always got a really good, useful thing to say in any situation.
“On the training ground he is really beneficial for everybody - for me and for the young strikers we have in imparting his knowledge on the pitch.
“We have seen recently in training he has looked really sharp and I have been really pleased with his general performances in training. He is a huge part of what we do."