Nigeria could earn well over $12 billion from gemstones annually if it invests in a laboratory to certify the value of the precious stone, Adesoji Adesugba, a professor of business administration, said at the just concluded 3rd edition of the annual African Gemstones and Jewellery Exhibition and Seminar (AGJES), in Abuja.
Adesugba said the country’s current income of “between $10 billion and $12 billion” was based on the value of gemstones in the international market extracted from Nigeria. No West African country producing gemstones, including Nigeria, has a laboratory that certifies and identifies gemstones. According to him, this is partly responsible for Nigeria’s’ current losses in the extractive sector.
He suggested that the first step in tackling this problem is capacity building, adding that “this would enable the country identify the gemstones and know the value of what she has, thereby ensuring the sector improves and takes its rightful place.”
This would also contribute to the nation’s GDP growth, Adesugba said.
A gemstone (also called a gem, fine gem, jewel, precious stone or semi-precious stone) is a piece of mineral crystal which is in cut and polished form used in making jewellery or other adornments. Most gemstones are hard, but some soft minerals are used in jewellery because of their lustre or other physical properties that have aesthetic value. Rarity is another characteristic that lends value to a gemstone. A gem maker is called a lapidary or gem cutter; a diamond cutter is called a diamantaire. Examples of gemstones are Amethyst, Sapphire, Pearl, Topaz, Emerald, Aquamarine, Ruby, Tourmaline, Quartz etc.
The global Gemstone and Jewellery industry is currently worth about $300 billion and is projected to cross $443 billion by 2022, an annual growth of over 4.73 per cent, according to a report in the African gemstone jewellery exhibition and seminar publication. Experts say India is the current global leader, with a market share of about $60 billion based on 2017 records predicted to reach $100- $110 billion by 2021 to 2022. This value contributes around 7 per cent of the country’s GDP employing over 4.64 million workers which is projected to rise to a peak of 8.23 million by 2022.
According to experts, the Nigerian economy does not benefit, financially, from gemstone trade and the current contribution of the solid minerals sector to the country’s overall GDP averages a paltry 0.3 per cent. This meagre amount is mostly due to laundering.
Kayode Fayemi, the former minister of mines and steel development, who is the current governor of Ekiti State, believes “gemstones worth $3 billion are exported annually from Nigeria, but mostly unofficially’’.
Promoters of the AGJES 2019 added that “It is also worthy to point out that Nigeria contributes about 10 per cent ($1.2 billion) of the total $12 revenue generated annually by Thailand from gemstone trade. We are losing tremendously on all sides and it is therefore critical to urgently revisit our disorganised gemstone and jewellery sector and turn the tables by making Nigeria a global hub just as India has done.”
At the event, the former president of the Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Shehu Sani, said: “the roadmap, which serves as a guide for the sector is good but lacks funding and this is a major hindrance in implementation”.
In his remarks, the current president of MAN, Kabiru Mohammed, said: “the federal government has allocated N2.5 billion to the sector through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and has since deposited the money in the Bank of Industry, but the money remains inaccessible to us.”
However, the President of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), Olugbenga Akindeji Okunola, pointed out that a N30 billion intervention fund is not enough for the sector. He described it as a drop in the ocean for the mining sector, urging the government to create more funding avenues.
The African Gemstones and Jewellery Exhibition and Seminar (AGJES) is an annual event to showcase the best of Nigerian and African gemstones, precious metals and jewellery. Currently, it is the only programme in the country that brings over 200 jewellers, gemstone suppliers and gem mining industry experts together once a year to network, share business ideas, showcase trends and shape the outlook for the future of the industry.
Its mission is to highlight issues which are plaguing the gem and jewellery industry in Nigeria and Africa, to unearth and bring to the fore the immense opportunities in this sector, and engage key stakeholders to seek out practical solutions for implementation in order to create an impact on the industry today that will lead to a clear path of change in the future.
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