Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
Due to disorganised nature of the gemstone business in Nigeria, the country contributes about 10per cent of the total $12 billion revenue generated annually by Thailand from gemstone.
Nigeria is not only losing revenue from the untapped solid minerals export but also losing to foreign players, who take advantage of her refusal to come together to develop the solid minerals sector.
This disclosure was made recently by the President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Prince Adetokunbo Kayode in his opening remark on the occasion of the first annual general meeting of the Gemstone Miners and Marketers Association of Nigeria (GMMAN) in Abuja.
Kayode, who was represented by the 2nd Deputy President of ACCI, Mr. Emeka Obegolu, said that because of the vast deposit of solid mineral in the country, Nigeria should earn the maxim, ‘the land of gems’.
“This journey started sometimes in August 2016, after I visited the Gem and Jewelry fair in Bangkok,
Thailand at the invitation of the Thailand Government. At a conference at that fair, it was pointed out that the gemstone industry in Thailand contributed about $12 billion annually to the country’s GDP. Of that amount about 10% of the gemstone was attributed to have come from Nigeria,” he said.
Quoting the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the ACCI President put the average value of gemstone export from Nigeria at $3 billion dollars annually.
He said the global jewelry business will hit £150 billion by the year 2020, adding that China, India, United States, Hong Kong and Switzerland are major importers of gemstones.
“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 and empowerment,” he said.
He said Nigeria is not making good money from gemstone is that 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 priced in both local and international markets,” he said.
Prince Kayode who doubles as the patron of GMMAN said players in the mining value chain face numerous challenges such as; destroying of stones as a result of the use of crude implement to mine; lack of access to finance, market access and inadequate capacity needed to carry out the job and inability of the critical stakeholders to organize the sector.
These, he said was the reason why GMMAN was established for the purpose of developing the gemstone industry in the Nigerian economy and promoting the sector internationally.
“The association is also a forum for networking, capacity development, policy advocacy, promoting ethical conduct, environmental initiatives and good governance”.