Tanzania Moots New Gem Plaza for Arusha

Source: East African BusinessWeek


Arusha — The Tanzania government through the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC), has put strategic plans to build a Tanzanite Plaza in Arusha City to house all transactions related to Tanzanite minerals.

Latest annual figures show Tanzania earned $38 million from the exports of Tanzanite, a bluish purple gem only found in the country.

Maasai tribesman Ali Juuyawatu is credited with finding the first tanzanite crystal.

Deputy Energy and Minerals minister, Dr Medard Kalemani, said the proposed structure is meant to ensure that Tanzanite dealers will have the precious stones in a secure place and provide a one-stop-centre.

He said this when responding to Simanjiro lawmaker, James Millya (Chadema) who wanted to know the government's plan to help Tanzanite traders in terms of providing them with loans and a reliable market.

Millya said that Tanzanite business people from other countries such as India and Kenya were getting full support from their governments, saying the move could be the reason why some people think that the gemstone was being produced in such countries.

"What's the government plan to help Tanzanite dealers to get loans so that they can be in a position to compete with other traders from outside the country?" Millya asked.

Dr Kalemani told parliamentarians that the government has been assisting local dealers by creating a favourable business environment to ensure their efforts pay dividends.

"The government through the Ministry of Energy and Minerals assists brokers and dealers get licenses and necessary support," he said.

He said, "We have also been organizing the Arusha Gem Fair (AGF) annually to connect local dealers with international traders. This is an opportunity to promote the business."

The minister also said that the government has been supporting small-scale miners and dealers by subsidizing them.

"In 2015/2016 financial year, for example, the government issued a subsidy to small-scale miners, service providers at the mining sites and the traders amounting to Tshs 7.2 billion (about $3.2 million)," he said.

Almost all Tanzanite is found in the hills of Merelani in northern Tanzania.

The gemstone was named for Tanzania by famur jewellers Tiffany & Company. Due to the crystals showing different colours depending on viewing direction, cutters can choose bluish purple or the more favored pure blue or violetish blue hue depending on how much weight they want to retain from the rough.

In such leading markets as North America and Europe, Tanzanite fashioned pieces are popular gifts for celebrating anniversaries or presented as birthstones.



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