NewsEast & Horn AfricaKenya to add value to gems and precious metals

Tue,19Sep2017

Posted on Friday, 07 July 2017 17:44

Kenya to add value to gems and precious metals

By Reuters

A miner carrying rocks containing Tsavorite as mine owner Campbell Richard, left, looks on, Kenya, April 6, 2006. Photo:RODRIQUE NGOWI/AP/SIPAKenyan traders in gems and precious metals will begin exporting finished products after the government said it has put up a value addition center in the south of the country.

 

The East African nation has gemstones like tsavorite, blue sapphire, aquamarine and rubies among others but most miners sell off their finds in uncut forms.

Value addition facilities will enable cutting, polishing and treatment of stones for export with the aim to create jobs, grow the mining sector and boost revenue.

The announcement came as the country hosted its first Gems and Jewellery Trade Fair in Nairobi from 6 - 7 July, attracting investors, miners and buyers from around the world.

The just concluded fair, organized in part by the Association of Women in Energy and Extractives in Kenya (AWEIK) and Kenya's Changer of Mines will be an annual affair and is part of efforts to boost the country's position in the industry.

Githaiga added that the event was focusing more on small scale miners and improving their existing role by introducing them to business and development opportunities.

According to the World Bank, the number of artisanal miners in Africa stood at 30 million in 2016 from about 10 million from 15 years ago.

"For the first time artisanal miners are now recognized and formalized, it's not like when we used to mine and we had to hide, you know, in the holes because then we were informal. Now, we are formal, now we are recognized and therefore that is a critical milestone for women, because a lot of our women participate at that level, at the artisanal mining level," she said.

Kenya's mining sector is a relatively small contributor to national output, accounting for less than 1% of economic output although its revenues are expected to grow.

Boost the industry

Authorities say they are working to improve the country's status as one of the world's worst mining performers following a survey by the Fraiser Institute, a Canadian think-tank that ranked Kenya among the bottom 10 in 2015, due to poor mining policies.

The government is already reviewing new mining legislation enacted last year to attract investment and get more people into the sector.

Athanas Senja has been mining precious stones since 1972. He says the industry has changed a lot since the days when everyone went rushing to find gems on their own with nothing but a pick and shovel but government support is crucial.

"If the government supports us and continues conducting these seminars and to educate us as we get to interact with investors and buyers. This will really help in growing the sector as the number of miners will also increase," he said.

"Well I think this is a new venture for Africa and it is a way to showcase our resources, our natural resources and also to enable economies to develop through these resources and this is the best way to kick-start the program," said one buyer from Nigeria, Mariam.

Government recognition and support is expected to boost the industry by getting more small scale miners licensed and contributing to tax revenues after years of illicit trade and smuggling of gems out of the country.



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