The Ministry of Energy and Minerals has launched initiatives aimed at upgrading the Arusha Gemstone Carving Centre (AGCC) into an internationally accredited gemological institute.
The Ministry has already announced the tender for interested consultants to carry out the job, adding that work is expected to start later this year after identifying the winner of the tender who will design and supervise refurbishment of the centre.
A statement from the Ministry issued yesterday in Dar es Salaam said already the government has received funds from the International Development Association (IDA) towards the cost of sustainable management of mineral resources project under the Ministry.
It is expected that part of the proceeds of the credit will be used to cover eligible payments for provision of consulting services for provision of architectural design and subsequently supervision of refurbishment works at AGCC.
The AGCC was established with the aim of training small scale entrepreneurs in value addition activities such as gemstones cutting, polishing and jewelry making. Arusha region is home to more than 30,000 gemstone dealers including small scale miners
In carrying out the assignment the consultant will have to assess the status of the building, recommend the extent of refurbishment of the same into a modern gemological institute, the statement said.
Gemstone experts say the commencement of the institute would help reduce mining skills gap which the country has been facing for a long time.
Technical skills development and training for the mining industry in Tanzania is still in its infancy, said Salum Mwanahewa.
For a long time, training in geology and for mining technicians was being provided at the University of Dar es salaam and at the Mineral Resources Institute in Dodoma, respectively.
Recently, degrees in Mining and Mineral Processing were introduced at UDSM, and curricula for mining technicians were introduced by VETA and by the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology.
Students who graduate from the institutions require extensive on-the-job training to acquire skills and competencies required in the mines, such as those required for blasters, shift bosses, mine overseers, mine surveyors, on-setters, and other positions.
Currently, such training is done by individual mines on an ad hoc basis, and there is no established framework for developing, facilitating, and certifying most of the competencies.
Skills development has been identified by the private sector as a major issue, and the Tanzania Chamber of Mines is currently developing a training scheme for vocational skills such as mechanical and electrical technicians to address this need.
During the past 10 years, Tanzania’s mining industry has experienced a boom in both mineral exploration and mining activities. Despite the increase in mining production, its share in both GDP and government revenue has remained relatively small.
The share of minerals in GDP averaged about 3 percent over 2000-2008 while its contribution to government revenue is 1.5 percent. Nevertheless, mining export accounts for up to 48 percent of merchandise export, and up to 24 percent of total exports.