Kenya loses rights to host International Gemstone Fair

Political uncertainty hanging over Kenya continues to take toll on the economy, with the country being stripped off the rights to host the International Color Gemstone Conference slotted for 2019.

The conference is an event held after every two years to showcase to the world the top gemstones and other precious stones, from over 50 countries across the globe known for gemstone production.

The event is organized by member countries of International Color Gemstone Association.

The Mining Cabinet Secretary (CS), Dan Kazungu on Thursday termed the suspension of next years’ conference as a big blow to the economy and mining sector in Kenya and Africa.

He blamed the outcome on the violent demonstrations and incessant demands by opposition leaders whom he said had placed the economy in jeopardy.

We have lost an opportunity to showcase to the world the unique gemstones we produce as a country because the political uncertainty in this country, Kazungu said in Voi Thursday where he addressed hundreds of miners from Taita-Taveta Miners and Dealers Organizations.

If Kenya would have hosted the event in 2019, it would have been the first time it was being held in the African continent.

Instead, the rights to host the event have now been granted to Thailand. Kenya will hope to host the event in 2021, whereas this years’ event will be held in India.

Another event that hangs in the balance is the Kenya Mining Forums that was slotted to be held later this year but has been kept pending due to political crisis in the country.

The CS said Kenya was poised to reap heavily from such conferences with thousands of investors in gemstone industry, buyers, miners and dealers flocking the country to participate in the event.

He noted that productive activities could not take place in an environment that was politically charged, adding that there was need to bring to a close any kind of bickering for the sake of the economy.

Kazungu stated that the government was committed to boosting the mining sector to make it one of the key drivers of the economy.

He revealed that the government had acquired a Sh.7 billion loan from Exim Bank in China to help conduct a nationwide aerial geo-survey to map out all zones endowed with minerals in the country.

He said once complete, the survey would enable the government to map out and allocate the zones to prospective investors to boost in production.

The CS added that the government’s effort to boost the mining sector had propelled Kenya from position 102 in global ranking for mineral-production countries to position 86 in 2017.

He also said that Titanium was the largest export from the port of Mombasa which reinforced the central position of minerals in the country.

Other leaders who attended the meeting included Taita-Taveta Women Representative, Lydia Haika, County Commissioner, Kula Hache and Deputy Governor, Majala Mlagui.

The miners requested the government to extend the 3-month deadline issued to submit applications for renewal of mining licenses, stating that the period was too short.

The CS extended the period to 31st December this year, where all those found not to have applied for renewal would be barred from doing so.

Through their secretary William Mwaura, the miners asked the government to create a fund for them to be getting loans to enable them exploit the mines in the region.

We need the government support for us to boost our production, he said.

The CS further promised to ensure the miners welfare was well-taken care of by the government.

Source: Kenya News Agency