28 Jul 2014 20:00pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 28 JUL (NAMPA) Trade and Industry Minister Calle Schlettwein says the Keetmanshoop Gemstone Centre is a prime example of how a value-chain can be implemented.
He made the remarks at the official inauguration of the Keetmanshoop gemstone training programme and graduation ceremony on Friday.
Our policy is that raw materials should be beneficiated so that we create jobs, create value and distribute this value, he noted.
The minister said he would want to see capacity-building in both processing and entrepreneurship development, and expects the centre to be self-sustainable with the income it generates from the precious stones.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry in keeping with its mandate on entrepreneurial development initiated the gemstone facility to serve as a gemstone-processing centre along with other stakeholders. The Offshore Development Company (ODC) engaged with Lempäälä, a municipality in south-western Finland, the Partnership for Local Democratic Development and Social Innovation (PLDDSI) and Kristallen, a jeweller in Lannavalla, Sweden, along with the Polytechnic of Namibia, to promote local economic development in Namibia.
The Polytechnic offers gemmology training at the centre.
Schlettwein said the partnership involves the revitalisation and development of the centre at Keetmanshoop as a regional hub for key actors within the semi-precious stone industry, and to promote production and marketing of gemstone products.
The centre started operating on 18 July 2012, with 11 out of the 15 students graduating on 28 July 2013.
This year only eight of the 15 students graduated from the one-year training programme.
The graduates, who started training on 20 August 2013, will receive equipment from the Ministry of Trade and Industry through its equipment scheme to establish their own businesses.
We want to empower the graduates that have learned the trade to make use of it, get the means of production in terms of equipment, get the material, and practice the profession, Schlettwein said.
The minister further called for the extension of the partnership to other regions such as Erongo and Kunene with similar gemstone raw material potential.
The ministry through the ODC has for the initial three-year period committed about N.dollars 3,5 million to the co-financing, while PLDDSI committed N.dollars 6 million so far, while the Keetmanshoop Town Council has committed N.dollars 60 000.