Tanzania's first ever state-of-the-art gem cutting and polishing plant has been commissioned in Arusha on Tuesday, marking the beginning of the long journey to uplift the northern city into an Africa's gemstone hub.
The 480 million (or $300,000) gemstone processing factory, housed in the newly built National Social Security Fund's Mafao house opposite Kanisa road, will be run as a joint venture-project by the Diamonds International and Signature Gems of Arusha.
The facility with 24 high-tech gem cutting and polishing machines and 30 Tanzanian women under intense training by an expert from Mexico, could cut and refine one thousand carat of tanzanite gemstone a day.
"You have touched my heart. This world class gem facility is going to be the beginning of a long journey to make Arusha Africa's hub for gemstone trade," says Mineral and Energy Deputy Minister, Stephen Maselle who graced the official opening of the plant.
Mr Maselle said Tanzania has been dreaming of attracting investors to put up gemstone value additional facility with an eye to create jobs for local people to benefit from their resources.
"You have our full support. We shall support you to ensure your operations are done smoothly. This investment is worth emulation by others" he said, praising both the Diamonds International and Signature Gems companies for their bold decision.
The Chairman and CEO of the Diamonds International, the World rated largest Tanzanite Buyer Company, billionaire Morris Gad, said he owes Tanzanians support.
"You have my commitment. This is going to be the beginning as we are planning to create hundreds of jobs for women in manufacturing jewelry" Mr Morris said, amid applause from the floor.
He said his company believes in giving back to the community where it sources the raw materials.
"We have to give back. We are behind Tanzania and her people, we need to support you... and we will support you," Mr. Morris said.
The 2010 mining Act, among others, forbids the export of rough tanzanite gemstone, compelling global jewel traders to start bringing capital in a bid to source the raw material locally.
Diamonds International, which purchases nearly 70 per cent of tanzanite, has pumped a lot of dollars into a state of the art gemstone processing plant in Arusha.
The company, the largest jewelry retailer with 140 locations in America, Mexico, Caribbean and other parts of the world, specializes in manufacturing and selling jewels around the world, while Signature Gems is the leading local tanzanite gemstone dealer and supplier.
The new plant is anticipated to turn Arusha into the largest gemstone producer and exporter in the near future.
Managing Director of Signature Gems, Sailesh Pandit said the joint venture factory was one of their efforts to back the government drive to make Tanzanite gemstone contribute immensely in the economic growth.
"I am very grateful to my partner, Morris Gad for walking his promise made last year that he would come back and invest heavily in the country to create employment and stimulate economic growth" Pandit explained.