At the graduation ceremony for the second batch of the master Gemstone, Jewelry making, and design training in Abuja, Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, disclosed that, proportionately, with low revenue benefit returns, Nigeria exports gemstones worth three billion dollars annually. The ministry’s initiatives are aimed at transforming Nigeria from a massive consumer of imported jewelry items to a high-quality local jewelry producer, thus saving the country from substantial foreign exchange expenditures on jewelry imports.
Nigeria is a country endowed with a diverse range of world-rare mineral resources, including several precious and semi-precious gemstones. Some of the most popular gemstones in Nigeria are sapphire, aquamarine, beryl, emerald, tourmaline, ruby, garnet, amethyst and zircon, which may be found across the nation. Precious stones such as beryl, aquamarine, sapphires, zircon in bubblegum, pink, and watermelon, and tourmaline grades ranging from green to red are very rare and can only be acquired in Tibet, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Brazil.
Nigeria lacks the requisite technical expertise.
The minister noted that Nigeria, with its massive population, has an insatiable desire for jewelry, making it critical to develop a local jewelry industry that can meet local market demand for quality products while also creating employment. However, she said that the majority of gemstones mined in Nigeria are exported in raw form seeing as the nation as a whole lack the technical expertise and machinery required to cut, polish, and finish jewelry, which is the procedure that adds greater value to a gemstone.
As a consequence, the gemstone trade doesn’t contribute value to the Nigerian economy. The sector’s current contribution to the country’s total GDP is less than 1%, and reports in 2019 stated that gemstones worth USD 3 billion are exported yearly from Nigeria, primarily unofficially and with minimal income returns. Nigeria exported $9.26 million in precious stones in 2020. Nigeria’s main precious stone export destinations were the United States ($2.96M), Japan ($1.81M), Germany ($1.64M), Italy ($923K), and Thailand ($831K).
The jewelry industry is projected to have great potential.
In order to address these challenges, it is crucial to develop expertise in jewelry production, design, and finishing. Saraki argued that when fully effectively utilized, the jewelry industry has the potential to make a significant contribution to the growth of the national economy by creating massive job opportunities, raising the standard of living in local communities by stimulating innovation and creativity, while generating enormous export contributions, and providing opportunities for import substitutions.
Former Nigerian Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, has affirmed that the government is dedicated to promoting the country’s solid mining industry. He emphasizes that the mining industry is ideally positioned to help with supply chain diversification, asserting that the upcoming “Nigeria Mining Week 2022” will address issues such as critical mineral resources that serve as the foundation for new technologies that provide us with green renewable energy, ESG global trends, and NIMEP and downstream opportunities, among others.
Graduates of the program are prompted for more development.
Patrick Ojeka, Director of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining, in his statement, urged graduates of the program to demonstrate commitment and tenacity in the skills they have amassed for the development of the downstream sectors and economic diversification through gemstone and jewelry making. In addition, the project coordinator, Engr. Sallim Salaam prompted the beneficiaries of the master training program to return to their various states to educate and empower others with the knowledge they had amassed.
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