- November 29, 2019
- Posted in LOCAL
Of utmost importance, our country needs more exports in order to attract much needed foreign currency. Zimbabwe has an abundance of gemstones, gem quality, high grade, low grade, and even industrial materials.
By Privelage Moyo
Most of these had never been highly regarded in our as exports, as this was due to lack of a sustainable market, knowledge and exposure.
As citizens started migrating to other countries an investment gap has been realised as well as the demand for original and genuine gemstones.
A lot of jewellery was and is still being made from synthetic materials that fill up our markets.
Zimbabwe as well as Africa at large needs to, therefore, come up with policies and unified frames for the marketing of these Gemstones.
The key issues to consider in promoting and marketing gemstones are:-
a) Flexible or nonrestrictive laws and regulations pertaining to mining and possession of gemstones internally.
The government has to come up with friendly laws to promote the ease of doing business. Monitoring and strict security measures must be put only at points of entry and exit so as to curb illicit outflows.
b) Exclusive mining rights strictly to locals.
Most of these gemstones can be mined by common people as some are found in loose soils, some in rivers and river beds like agates.
The whole idea will be to empower the locals or citizens to value and benefit from their community minerals directly as they will be included in the value chain.
We have seen the potential with artisanal and small-scale miners in the gold production sector proving that if given a chance and full knowledge and support the gemstone industry will flourish.
c) To create an open market or one-stop-shop market/s in either three or four provinces eg, Harare, Mutare, Masvingo, and Bulawayo.
If Tobacco has market structures and systems that are well organised and promoting the formalisation of tobacco
farming, then why not the gemstone industry which is not seasonal but all year round.
This will allow traders and miners to showcase their wares closer to their localities. Cutting transportation cost as well as creating employment in and around the mining and marketing areas.
(d) Beneficiation to be done internally, that is in the country of origin except for some materials like clear quartz or milky quartz.
A lot of investment from both government and diasporans have to be made in the mechanising the processors, gem cutting and polishing.
Most equipment being used in our country is obsolete.
e) Investing in Institutions,
It is high time the government focuses on real issues that transform a nation, the likes of empowering its citizens with knowledge of cutting, polishing as well as jewellery making.
We have all we need, that is, raw materials and highly literate labour force. Also, let our children be taught about
gemstones from tender ages such that the knowledge acquired will be beneficial to their future.
f) Predatory buyers and prices.
If Africa realises it’s potential no predators will ever set foot at our shores to loot our gem minerals for a song but will come as business partners.
Currently, when buyers realise the availability of our resources, they drop or benchmark our gemstones to prices worth nothing to a miner nor the country but worth billions to their markets.
We need to come together as Africa and be unified in the gemstone industry. Africa is being sidelined in its own territories.
Buyers end up being the miners and across continents, being the processors or marketer of our minerals thereby making African citizens only labourers of their mineral wealth.
g) DIASPORIANS EXPOSURE.
It’s high time we utilise the opportunities we possess of having our countrymen and women resident in various continents to be involved and create or open up markets for our gemstones.
Currently, they contribute to the economy by sending their hard-earned foreign currency to their families of which there is another better win-win solution that will see the return on investment then earning more from home and remit back.
The whole idea now is not to reinvent the wheel but to use the existing wheels for the benefit of our country as well as our African continent.
The diaporians will be our country’s agents or marketing partners thereby earning from home as well as doing business with fellow countrymen.
There are over 5 million Zimbabweans living in neighbouring countries and abroad and if just a fifth of these decide to invest in Gemstone mining, millions will benefit. There will be less unemployment as more will be self-employed and potentially earning handsomely even from the most remote parts of the country.
All it takes is for laws, rules, and regulations to be aligned to benefit its citizens and most importantly conscientise the Citizens.