Voi Gemology Centre To Generate KSh 3 Billion
The government is set to generate in excess of Ksh3 billion annually as revenue from value-addition to gemstones set for export from the country once Voi Gemology center is fully operationalised.
The National Development Implementation and Technical Committee (NDITC) said the facility which was handed over to the Ministry of Mining in 2017 by the contractor was ready for full-operationalization allowing the government to start earning revenue from the lucrative gemstone trade.
The NDITC was touring the Ksh60 million facility on Saturday to assess the status and determine if the multi-million project center was ready for commissioning.
Ms. Safina Kwekwe, Principal Secretary (PS) for Tourism, said there was no reason the center should not start processing gemstones even as the concerned ministry finalized the modalities of official commissioning.
“The center has everything it requires to start cutting and processing gemstones for value addition. It needs to start doing what it was constructed to do because the government is missing out on its rightful share of revenue,” PS Kwekwe said.
The construction works for the Voi Gemstone Value Addition Center started in 2015 and ended in 2017. The government then equipped the facility in 2018 in readiness to start processing of raw gemstones.
However, there has been little progress in the processing of gemstones. One of the biggest obstacles was delay by the ministry of Mining to gazette the center’s management committee.
In early February, the committee was gazette, paving way for dealers and miners to be allocated mining booths. Ms. Kwekwe stated that thousands of artisanal miners from all gemstone mining zones were eager to start selling their gemstones through the center as a way of making their labor meaningful.
“This center was built to assist the small-scale and artisanal miners get good prices for their gemstones and shield them from being exploited by brokers,” she pointed out.
Other PSs in the team included Harry Kimutai for Livestock, Nelson Marwa for Social Protection, Eng. Peter Tum for Labour and Ibrahim Mohammed for Defense.
According to the Ministry of Mining, Kenya loses millions of shillings during the exportation of raw gemstones. There is also a lot of smuggling of the precious stones from the mining areas which makes the government lose revenue.