The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari has lauded the promoters of African Gems & Jewelry Exhibition and Seminar (AGJES), 2018 in using the platform to create a viable local market and access to foreign market for locally produced gemstones and jewellery, adding that their efforts to contribute to the growth of the sector will immensely benefit the citizenry and country.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2nd edition of AGJES with the theme: Mines to Market: Collaborating to Improve Industry Linkages, Healing Africa through Gemstones, held from 6th – 7thDecember, 2018 at NAF Conference Centre Kado, Abuja, he noted that the event was meant to create awareness for the African Jewelry industry and showcase fantastic array of gems available in the continent in order to increase trade in the sector.

The Minister acknowledged the Seminar section of the event, which enlightened the world that Nigeria is a mining destination endowed with huge beautiful gemstones and noted that government has stipulated gems policy to engender new process in mining and marketing activities in line with international best practices. This will enable artisans get good prices for their gems and also boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by ensuring proper evaluation of Gemstones through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Barrister Georgina Ekeoma Ehuriah, MON, in her welcome address at the occasion explained that the enormous value of gemstones and other identified strategic minerals as growth enablers and viable revenue generators for the country, has spurred government’s unreserved commitment to de-risk the sector through mining laws that will facilitate the attraction of relevant investors for full benefits from mines to market.

The First Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the wife of Nassarawa State Governor, Dr. Mero AL-Makura, called on women to make themselves available to the opportunities in mining sector and also urged the major players in the sector to encourage women to grow and fully participate in gems and jewellery business.

In her contribution, the Chairperson of AGJES, Ambassador, Mrs. Regina Edzuwah, said the African Gems and Jewelry Exhibition and Seminar is a platform created to galvanize the development of the gems and jewelry value chain in Africa with ultimate objective to position Nigeria as a commercial hub for the industry throughout Africa and indeed globally. The move is expected to result in fair trade in gemstones and deliver commeasuring benefits to the various players in the sector.

She, among other things, appealed to the government to address such challenges as illegal mining, low revenue collection, minimal value addition, weak oversights, inadequate regulations, weak feasibility mechanism, occasional disclosure of contracts payment and other crucial information, in order to achieve the economic benefits of AGJES.

The Project Coordinator of MinDiver, Mr. Linus Adie, in his message at the Seminar disclosed that the aim of MinDiver in the jewelry industry is to create master jewelry makers in all the States of Nigeria within the period of five years; a jewelry making school in Abuja, which is at an advanced stage to engage a reputable firm to teach master trainers on jewelry manufacturing, etc. It also looks forward to positive results and added value to the economy from efforts being made to develop the industry by government and the private sector.

Goodwill messages were delivered by the Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, the President of Abuja Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Prince Ade Tokunbo, who also stood in for Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines & Agriculture (NACCIMA), President of Gemstones Miners and Marketers Association of Nigeria (GMMAN), Professor Adesoji Adesugba, National Secretary of Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. Dele Ayanleke.

They unanimously appreciated the efforts of the organizers of AGJES in deepening knowledge about the gems and jewelry industry to diversify the economy, and emphasized on the need to develop the sector through increased awareness, adequate training, enhanced skills and implementation of good government policy. The stakeholders also pledged their support to the coordinators in all their aspirations to grow the sector.

Topics discussed at this year’s AGJES include: Laws and regulations; Health and Environment; Methods of Mining; Pricing and Negotiation; Processing and Beneficiation; Gems Handling and Trading; Certification; and Fair Trade. One of the foremost promoters of the event, Mrs. Jummai Oluyede, thanked all stakeholders that contributed to make the occasion a success.