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Help Promote Processing f Jewelleries Locally, Govt Urged
By CHATULA KANGALI, Times of Zambia
THE government should consider establishing a structured allocation system where a proportion of the rough gemstones are reserved exclusively for local players in value addition.
Jewel of Africa says there was currently no security of supply of gemstones in the country because auctions that were a gateway to the stones were dominated by international giants, who, with their vast financial reserves, easily outbid local businesses.
Company managing director Raj Sharma said such a system would not only empower local businesses but would also ensure that a portion of gemstone wealth remains within Zambia for value addition.
Dr Sharma said in an interview in Ndola recently that Zambia was blessed with an abundance of gemstones that the world cherished yet local players lack access to the stones. “Our growth is stunted simply because we have no security of supply!
How can Zambian companies sustain sales of emerald jewellery if we cannot access rough gemstones in our own country?
“We find ourselves in a paradoxical situation where our own players, our own companies, jewelers and craftsmen, often lack access to these gemstones in their rough form,” he said.
Dr Sharma said Zambian gemstones should not just be mined but also cut, polished, and set into exquisite pieces of jewellery in Zambia by Zambians.
He said by value-adding to the final stage of jewellery, the country would not create jewelry but also forging a future for thousands of Zambians. Dr Sharma said there was need for Zambia not only to be recognised as a significant gemstone producer but also a value addition player.
He called on the government to facilitate access to affordable capital for Zambian businesses to engage in the gemstone value chain.
He said there was need for collaborative efforts between the government and financial institutions to create targeted loan programs or grants to bolster value addition aspirations in the sector.