The Mining ministry will in three years ban the export of uncut gemstones in a bid to add value to minerals and boost the country’s economy.
Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the arrangement would ensure Kenya reaps maximum benefits from the resources.
“In 2018 or 2019, our gemstones must be cut in this country. We can’t allow our people to continue languishing in poverty yet their areas are endowed with minerals,” he said.
Mr Balala spoke in Voi yesterday during a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a gemology centre in the town. The centre will be built at a cost of Sh30 million.
The minister said such centres would also create employment.
“If the Tanzania government introduced the cutting of gemstones in the country, why shouldn’t we also try it?” he asked.
Mr Balala urged the private sector to seek the ministry’s approval for opening such gemstone-cutting centres throughout the country.
He said miners are lured by brokers to sell their gemstones at throw-away prices yet they could fetch more money if they were cut and polished locally.
“We don’t want our minerals to be sold overseas in a raw state. Instead, we want them to be sold locally as precious minerals,” he said.
He warned that serious action would be taken against unlicensed gemstone dealers from Sri Lanka who visit Kenya to buy minerals at low prices.
“According to reports, some of the dealers are arrested, then eventually released by police. I have directed the police to bring these culprits to my office so that the ministry ensures they are blocked from visiting the country again,” he said.