Olamilekan Adegbite, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, MMSD, says Nigeria will soon become a gold jewelry-making destination.
Mr Adegbite made this know on Friday in Abuja while conducting graduation ceremony for 21 selected youths trained on jewelry making.
According to him, Federal Government is making effort to make sure value is added to raw gold mined locally to attract foreigners and make Nigeria gold jewelry destination.
He said that the training as first of its kind was organised to strengthen the local production of jewelry, create jobs, increase livelihood standards and the creativity of Nigerians.
He said that the training they acquired would also serve as import substitution as Nigeria is a large consumer of jewelry products from the United Arab Emirates, India, China and Europe.
He noted that gemstone and jewelry industry in the country remains underdeveloped, as gems are mined by artisanal operators and sold as rough stones in Germany, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the United States.
He said that value addition to Nigerian gold and gemstone was critical to the diversification of the current government, as it moves away from over-dependence on oil.
“We discovered that our gold is leaving Nigeria shore on a daily basis in raw form to other countries and after the gold is converted to jewelry the price will become so high that common man cannot afford it.
“We are going to retain our raw gold and add value to it and sell to our people.
“We are currently building Gold Souk in Kano and Gemstone in Ibadan where our raw gold will be converted to jewelries and we can also export them.
“We have trained 21 youths as first set selected across the country to also train others in jewelry making and they will be empowered with starter packs,’’ he said.
Dr Sallim Salaam, the Coordinator, Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification, MinDiver, Project, said that the training that started in October 2021 was sponsored by the MMSD and the World Bank.
Salaam said that the trainers were drawn from different countries such as: Begium, Germany, among others, adding that the trainees were certified upon completion of their training.
“We expect them to go back to their states and open clusters with the assistance of the state governments to also train more people on gemstone cutting, polishing among others,’’ he said.
Peter Vermandere, a Belgian trainer, said that the training was a big project, adding that the trainees had learnt new ways of improving and designing jewelries.
A trainee from Edo, Jessica Ogiuva, who spoke on behalf of other participants, appreciated the opportunity given to them.
She promised that they would share the knowledge acquired with others in their respective states.