International funder, the African Development Bank (AfDB) commissioned a study to look into the contribution of jewelry manufacturing and its potential for job creation for women and youths in Zimbabwe.
The initial US$1.4 million project, which will also be implemented in Sierra Leone and the Republic of Guinea will entail a value chain analysis study examining the sector’s contributions to value addition and job creation according to the funder.
“The mining industry plays a critical role in many Sub-Saharan African economies and offers great potential for sustainable job creation, private sector development and women’s empowerment. However, the resource boom has provided limited opportunities for the local population,” AfDB Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society, Vanessa Moungar said.
“With this project, the African Development Bank invests in downstream activities such as jewelry manufacturing, to stimulate local economies, foster inclusive growth and integrate African SMEs into global mineral value chains.”
AfDB says the initial study will directly help to address the lack of skills and create a better understanding of adding value in the industry, with the ultimate goal of reducing fragility in all three countries and building resilience.
The funder also discussed about an identified opportunity for jewelry manufacturing in Zimbabwe to be scaled up through the provision of skills transfer and required technology.
“Transforming semi-precious minerals and gemstones into jewelry, supported by training for value addition activities, holds the promise of creating more jobs and enhancing the lives of youth and women in the first three targeted African countries of the project,” said Cosmas Ochieng, Director of the African Natural Resources Centre.
The bank says, “The overarching goal of the minerals value chain analysis is to address the capacity gaps in jewelry manufacturing and assess its impact on value addition, job creation, and the economic empowerment of youth and women.”
Zimbabwe’s mining sector earned more than US $3,4 billion last from minerals, which include gold diamonds, chrome and nickel.
Experts have, however, raised concern that the country could be loosing more on exporting raw materials suggesting value-addition on the exported minerals.
The government also has got a project to value add diamond before exporting.