Stakeholders brainstorm on opportunities, challenges, wealth in gemstones and jewellery sector
By Lubem Gena, Abuja
Critical stakeholders drawn from various areas of gemstones and jewellery sector have converged on Abuja to chat ways to reposition the sector and make it a money spinner for the country.
They are taking a wholistic look at the opportunities, challenges and how to open up the sector for optimum benefit of Nigeria.
Speaking at the stakeholders consultative workshop which took place at the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), the President of the chamber who doubles as the Chairman of Gemstones Miners and Markwters Association of Nigeria (GMMAN) Prince Adetokunbo Kayode stressed the need for all hands to b on the deck as part of critical efforts to improve the lot of the sector.
“As major players in this area, we are no doubt aware that Nigeria is appropriately addressed as the global land of Gems. This may not be unconnected with the possible average dollar value of gemstone export from Nigeria which is put at over 3 billion dollars annually. This also means there is need for all of us, across the value chain activities to close ranks and to work in a coordinated manner that would make for efficiency and rake in economic benefits to the nation.
“With this high demand in the gemstone sector, Nigeria has the potential to grow her economy through the gemstone sector especially now that the country is returning to the path of sustainable development through the non-oil sector.
“If available opportunities in the sector are leveraged on, gemstones can be an important source of income for a developing country like ours through job creation, value addition and empowerment of our teaming population.
“Gemstone business must be a big income generator and Nigeria should be making good money from it. But it is not. The country has not been able to maximally tap the potentials and impact positively on the lives of those who operate around its value chain.
“Instructively, stones like sapphire, ruby, aquamarine, emerald, tourmaline, topaz, garnet, amethyst, zircon and others are available in large quantities in several locations in the country including Plateau, Kaduna and Bauchi states for years and can command premium prices in both local and international markets.
“We are using this medium to advocate for an improved and adequate legal framework that would phase out illegal or what is commonly referred to as ‘artisanal miners to allow the full potentials of the nation’s gemstones to be achieved. On both score we are ready to work with both federal and state governments, the Ministry of Mines as well as the National Assembly.
“I also want to seize the opportunity provided by this event to re-echo an urgent and responsible need for constructive efforts aimed at rejuvenating activities in the gemstones mining sector to be expedited upon in order to minimize smuggling”, he stated.
In his contribution, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Abdulkadir Muazu said the event marks another milestone in the quest to build a vibrant mining sector.
He said the value chain activities in gemstones and jewellery are aimed at creating jobs and wealth amongst out citizens as well as contributing significantly to the nation’s gross earning.
“Over the past couple of years, we have observed that the level of exposure among Nigerian exporters and dealers of gemstones to overseas markets is changing and becoming more advanced. More Nigerians are becoming aware of the importance of adding value to the gemstones material by cutting and polishing to export them.
” As a result, the number of cutting facilities and professionals including gemologists, jewelers etc in the country is rising.
“In response to the growing needs of the gemstones and jewellery industry, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) has outlined reforms that would properly organise the entire gemstones and jewellery industry value chain in Nigeria with a roadmap aspiration to extract maximum value and developmental impact for Nigeria’s people from their finite solid mineral resources”, Dr. Muazu stated.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Coordinator of World Bank assisted project called MinDiver, Mr. Utsu Linus Adie said the event is providing a platform to launch the critical phase that bothers on the design and implementation of a strategy for the development of the Nigeria’s gesmtones an jewellery industry.
“Our target is to emulate the example of India, who are today the global leaders in gems and jewellery; contributing 29% to the global jewellery consumption.
“…It is estimated that the value of gemstones exports from Nigeria should not be less than $2million; with Thailand, Sri Lanka, Israel, Germany, United States and India destinations. We do not need a soothsayer to tell us that Nigeria needs a sustainable bouyant gems an jewellery industry to feed the appetite of our glamourous ladies”, Mr. Adie added.