Vice President Mutale Nalumango says the government is committed to supporting and promoting the gemstone sector as it has potential to contribute to the nation’s economic development.
Ms Nalumango said the government recognizes the potential Gemstone has in contributing to the nation’s development through job creation and improving lives of the people hence the need for it to be promoted.
The Vice President said this in a speech read on her behalf by Copperbelt Province Permanent Secretary Augustine Kasongo during the launch of gemstone processing and lapidary competition in Ndola.
Ms Nalumango said the government has set up a number of interventions to help invest more in skills development to support value addition.
She said supporting women and youths acquiring training skills of cutting and processing gemstones is one way that will help the country improve the livelihood of the people and add value to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The Vice President added that transforming the gemstone processing and lapidary training center into a regional training hub is one such effort that will help support the gemstone processing in the country.
Ms Nalumango has since directed the Ministry of Technology and Science to put up mechanisms to enable women and youths access to gemstone processing and lapidary training.
“I further direct the ministry to explore the possibility of partnering with constituencies to facilitate access to this training through Constituency Development Funds (CDF) and eventually set up cutting cottages within the various provinces,” she said.
She added that collaborating with constituencies will not only enhance Job creation but also create wealth at local levels and increase revenue to local authorities and government through levies and taxes.
Jewel of Africa Managing Director Raj Sharma has urged the government to consider establishing a structured allocation system where a proportion of the rough gemstones are reserved exclusively for local players in value addition.
Dr. Sharma said such a system will not only empower local businesses but also ensure that a portion of gemstone wealth remains within Zambia for value addition.
He added that having collaborative efforts between the government and financial institutions could create targeted loan programmes or grants to bolster aspirations in the gemstone sector.
He said recognizing Zambia as a significant gemstone producer will help niche in the global market, and bring foreign exchange into the nation’s coffers.
“Every gemstone that leaves our country in its rough form is an opportunity missed, an opportunity for employment, for artistry, for growth”, he said.
Grizzly Mine Group of Companies General Manager Barbara Kafwilo said grizzly group is a beneficiary of the service provided by the lapidary training center as most of the staff members have been trained on how to cut and polish gemstones.
Mrs Kafwilo said in support of value addition the group of companies has been providing employment opportunities for some of the trainees from the institution.