BoI kickstarts training of 1,600 youths in gemstone production
Mr Waheed Olagunju, Acting Managing Director, BoI, at the commencement in Kaduna, said that extraction, processing and trading in gemstones would expedite recovery, transformation and diversification of the economy.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that gemstone is a piece of mineral (or other rock or organic material) that after been cut and polished, can be made into a piece of jewellery or other accessory.
According to Olagunju, the programme aligns with BoI’s operational Commodity-Based Industrialisation Strategy enunciated by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to reduce the country’s dependence on oil.
“There is a need to add value to our vast and rich agricultural, solid minerals and petroleum resources.
“Relative to Nigeria’s other major natural resource endowments, solid minerals is where we have the lowest hanging fruits.
“For instance, gemstones are beneath our soil and you do not need to dig too deep before extracting them, unlike agriculture and oil where you need several months or even years of preparation before you can reap the fruits of your labour.
“In some locations, you can actually extract gemstones like sapphire, the size of a cube of sugar and earn up to $100,000 in a matter of weeks,” he said.
Olagunju said that the multi-billion dollar industry that had transformed many economies of the world had potential to generate foreign exchange earnings, job and wealth creation for Nigerians.
“Given the growth of the jewelry market worldwide, the potential economic impact of gemstones mining and its multiplier effects are enormous.
“Nigeria is actually blessed with some of the world’s scarce precious gemstones like beryl and aquamarine, sapphires, zircon and various grades of tourmaline.
“Gemstones are readily available in commercial quantities in most parts of Nigeria,” Olagunju said.
He said that the training session would be conducted by Laurel School of Mines for the 1,600 youths in eight locations across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
Olagunju said that participants with potentially viable and bankable business plans would be financed by BoI after the training session and also offered business support services.