Text of welcome address by President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, CON., SAN at the opening ceremony of the 2019 African Gems and Jewellery Exhibition and Seminar (AGJES) held on 7th August, 2019 at Abuja International Trade and Convention Centre
I am delighted to welcome you all to this year’s AGJES series of events which are carefully planned to show new trends and opportunities in the gems and jewelleries industry, make business contacts and sign deals. The seminar also provides a platform to discuss areas that have bearing on the gems and jewellery sector and value chain activities.
As major players in this business, the plight of Nigeria is worrisome. We have rich array of gemstones in Nigeria but hardly have we mobilised the critical mass needed to maximise the huge potentials in this line of business.
This has stimulated our interest in this sector. In talking about the value chain, we have those involved in mining, processing as well as those who are cutting, polishing, warehousing and marketing these precious stones.
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, the monumental progress made by other countries can be replicated here with the large deposits diversity, occurrence and the spread in coloured stones in the country.
According to analyst, cut red tourmalines can sell for over $1,000 per carat in similar manner as emeralds, rubies and sapphires which Nigeria is well endowed with, are actually the most monetarily valuable gemstones. Therefore, Nigeria’s coloured stones are well-rated.
On the flip side, one of the major impediments to a sustained growth of the Gemstones industry is activities of artisanal miners who are in most cases foreigners. In this regard, we call on the government to take urgent and responsible steps towards formalising them and making them critical contributors to our GDP.
In other climes, there are highly standardised gems mining, trained lapidaries and established standard buying houses. Thailand with a population of 60 million people compared to Nigeria’s estimated 201 million employs over a million people in its gemstone Industry. A good part of this population are employed as professional cutters in Bangkok which has developed into one of the most popular international Gemstone cutting centres. About 200,000 Thais are also engaged as hobbyist gem-cutters who operate from their homes as a means of supplementing their income.
All hope is however not lost. Myself and a cross section of players have established the Gemstone Miners and Marketers Association of Nigeria (GMMAN), the Gemological Institute of Nigeria (GIN) and recently, we are pioneering efforts in establishment of gemstones warehouse in Abuja.
Government cannot do it alone. At nest it can provide a regulatory and facilitating environment while the Organised Private Sector (OPS) drives the process. It is a task that must be done if we are to collectively benefit from the trade in this sector.
On this note, I wish you all a successful exhibition and fruitful seminar.
Thank you and God bless.