James Mazimba, an academician based in the Copperbelt, has emphasized the urgent need for enhanced skills development within the gemstone sector. Mazimba, who serves as a lecturer at Ndola’s Government-owned Gemstone Processing and Lapidary Training Centre, advocates for a significant boost in skilled labor to improve gemstone processing and consequently promote value addition within the industry.
Mazimba underscored that the current trend of predominantly exporting raw gemstones limits Zambia’s potential to maximize revenue from this valuable sector. He highlighted the crucial necessity for practical measures to bolster the gemstone sector, aligning with government initiatives aimed at promoting value addition.
The lecturer emphasized the critical role of supporting institutions such as the Gemstone Processing and Lapidary Training Centre in Ndola. He emphasized that such support would significantly benefit the gemstone sector, fostering the creation of finished products within the country.
Speaking to reporters in Ndola, Mazimba stressed the significance of transitioning from exporting raw gemstones to exporting finished products, asserting that skill development is pivotal in achieving this transition.
“Not all gemstone mines can engage in processing stones. However, with skilled individuals in the industry, mines can produce minerals, which can then be subjected to value addition before sale to local traders,” Mazimba explained. He further highlighted the potential scenario where Zambian traders equipped with processing skills would buy from the mines, process the minerals, and export finished products.
The academician expounded on the economic benefits of this approach, elucidating that a developed value addition process would lead to increased national revenue from the gemstone sector. He explained that value addition would expand the tax base, as not just the mines but also local buyers and exporters of finished products would contribute to the nation’s tax revenues.
“Value addition will not only diversify revenue sources but also optimize the economic contributions from the gemstone sector. Currently, it’s predominantly the mines that contribute to the tax revenue, but with enhanced value addition, a broader spectrum of contributors would bolster the nation’s financial gains,” Mazimba concluded.
Mazimba’s call for skill development and enhanced value addition within the gemstone sector highlights a pathway toward not just economic diversification but also an increased contribution to the nation’s revenue streams, reflecting a strategic approach towards maximizing Zambia’s gemstone potential.