Maleta Gems joins calls for establishment of formal market for gemstones

By Wahard Betha

Malawi’s leading gemstone and Jewelry firm, Maleta Gems and Jewelry, has called on the Malawi Government to expedite the process of establishing a gemstone structured market to be buying gemstones from both local dealers and miners.

After rolling out a structured gold market in April 2022, the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) announced plans to establish a gemstone market which is yet to start functioning.  

In a written response to our questionnaire, Manager for Maleta Gems and Jewels Percy Maleta says just like gold, the Government needs to prioritise the gemstone industry to ensure that the country benefits fully from the minerals as well as create a conducive environment for the ASMs.

Maleta says: “Just like government through the central bank has been buying gold, they should quickly set up markets for gemstones whose potential in my view dwarfs gold mining by far as the gemstones industry is a 100 billion dollar plus industry yearly, let us as a country develop a road map on how we can have a good share of the market.”

“Mining especially the ASM subsector has the potential to contribute significantly to the 1-million jobs talked by the government. Gemstones and gold have the potential to contribute significantly to the countries purse.”

“All this will happen with strategic investment and government has to lead the way. Ourselves, as players we will continue promoting this business in and outside Malawi.”

He cites that his firm plans to exhibit Malawi gemstones in the year 2023 in USA, United Kingdom, Germany, China, Canada, Australia and other countries.

In the just ended 2022, Maleta Gems and Jewels attended three International gemstone and jewelry shows including: The Dubai Expo 2020 which ran from October 2021 to March 2022 plus two gemstones and minerals show in the United Kingdom thus London in July and Edinburgh in November.

“We do this with own resources but it will not hurt to have other players coming in to help us in this crusade in whatever way making Malawi the destinationof gemstones and gold business,” he says.

Maleta explains that once the Government sets up the formal gemstone market, ASMs will be bailed out from other challenges currently being faced in the sector including forex scarcity, economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and many others which restrict them from doing their marketing freely.

He says: “The year 2022 has not been an easy one as you know, coming from Covid-19 scare where almost everything was shut down, for us in the gemstones business it meant starting again to be able to travel to the markets outside Malawi but also equally buyers and investors able to fly into Malawi, still because of Covid-19 we have had many preferring to wait and see and this has affected the gemstones business not only in Malawi but worldwide.”

“Just like any other business, forex scarcity has hit us hard, we cannot buy packaging materials for out gemstones and jewelry, we cannot buy spares or new equipment to increase our production, it is difficult to participate in so many gemstone shows outside Malawi because there is no forex.”

He says the Government needs to intervene by having a role on all the facets of the gemstone business in Malawi talking of, licensing, exploration, mining, value addition and marketing, if the 2063 goals of the government are to be achieved where mining is the priority.

However, responding to the development, RBM Director in the Governor’s Office Ralph Tseka says the process to establish the gemstone market is in the final stage and expected to roll out early 2023.

Tseka says there are some few things that the bodies responsible were finalizing to ensure that market roles out without any gaps.

“Firstly, we wanted to establish market for the gemstone, who will be the off-takers, of which now we have identified.

“Now we are buying equipment to be used to test the precious minerals and also we have hired experts who have done gemstone business, who are aware of the minerals.”

“On top of that we also needed to propose for budget of which as am speaking was approved in December last year and any time soon we will role the project,” Tseka explains.

In terms of pricing; understanding that the country is enriched with various gemstones, Tseka says the criteria to come up with prices will be announced by the experts once they start buying the gemstones.

Malawi has abundant and diverse mineral resources, most of which are yet to be adequately explored and sustainably exploited for socio-economic growth and development of the country.

These include; uranium, rare earth minerals, niobium, tantalum, bauxite, coal, limestone, graphite, heavy mineral sands, vermiculite, kaolinitic clay, phosphate, iron ore, pyrite, silica sands, gemstones, gypsum, and many others.

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