More than 90% of gemstones mined in Namibia leave the country in rough form, resulting in a loss of jobs and revenue for the country.
This was said by industrialisation and trade minister Lucia Iipumbu at the graduation of 44 gemstone cutters, 25 of whom are women, in Windhoek on Wednesday.
Iipumbu said the training programme was necessitated by the fact that a variety of semi-precious stones produced by small-scale miners are sold to local buyers and tourists.
In addition, small-scale mining activities provide numerous job opportunities to various rural communities in Namibia, especially in regions endowed with gemstones, she said.
The project is one of the ministry’s interventions to ensure the creation of a viable and sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem under the Empretec Namibia centre within the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade.
“Data has proved that the Namibian economy depends primarily on the mining sector, therefore, since independence the government has deliberately set to incentivise value addition and manufacturing, which are a key objectives in the Growth at Home strategy,” said Iipumbu.
She said the ideals of value addition and skills training for the diamond, semi-precious stones and associated value chains are further embellished in the collaborative strategy released in 2021 by the trade ministry and the Ministry of Mines and Energy – the Mineral Beneficiation Strategy for Namibia.
The centre has facilitated the placement of at least 95% trainees in the diamond industries for further training and to contribute to the Sector Growth strategy of the Namibian jewellery industry and coloured gemstone and associated value chains.
Producing many graduates of this course is an important element in the war against poverty and a further step on Namibia’s path towards becoming a highly competitive and industrialised nation in gemstone cutting and polishing, said Iipumbu.