South African investors, registered in Rwanda as ‘Solex Rwanda,’ are set to establish a factory projected to add value to diamond and gemstone, as well as manufacturing jewellery in Rwanda, The New Times has learnt. The investors recently exhibited diamond jewellery, gemstone and amethyst cutting and polishing, during The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali. Gemstone is a precious stone especially cut, polished, and used in making jewellery. Amethyst, is a violet variety of quartz. Narcisse Dushimimana, the Head of Mining Regulation and Inspection Department at Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB) told The New Times that, “The investor to add value to such precious stones was given all the required support and he is settling very soon.” The mining sector in Rwanda has untapped potential that presents lucrative investment opportunities in the entire value chain from exploration to value addition considering that Rwanda’s mineral ores produced in the country are exported as almost 100 percent raw mineral concentrates. The opportunities, the institution says, are also in setting gemstones, cutting and polishing plants. “The exploration and exploitation of gemstones is still at a low level in Rwanda,” Mining board says, adding that the country possesses a variety of gemstones. Dushimimana said that while gemstones are locally available, “The investor’s factory will be a value addition on diamonds from various destinations.” The CEO of Solex Rwanda, Solly Masilo said that the factory could be set up in the Special Economic Zone in Kigali. “When I read about Rwanda, I was excited about the governments vision. The Rwanda Mining Board will be helping us with a place for small operations to start with. But eventually we are going to build our own factory for jewellery manufacturing, diamond and gemstone cutting, and polishing in a special economic zone where Aldango is because we are in the same sector. We want to create that relationship, chain of industries,” he said. Asked about the estimated cost of investment to set up the factory, he said it could cost millions of US dollars. “We are still quantifying and can’t give information now but it is a huge amount,” he said. Why invest in Rwanda He said they came to Rwanda as it has good policies, with an enabling environment for investment, and that it is in a strategic place to access different markets. “Rwanda has availability of resources such as gemstones as well as silver. And also, because we are in the region that has minerals such as Tanzanite in Tanzania and others such as gold and so forth,” he said. He said they will be manufacturing jewellery to supply both the local and international markets. “Africa should take charge of its minerals for industrialisation. Rwanda wants to be a mining hub of Africa and the Rwanda Mining Board has welcomed us. We attended CHOGM and exhibited our products from gemstones, diamond, silver,” he said, adding that minerals should not be exported as raw materials. Locals to get six-month training Masilo said that next month, they will bring equipment to start small operations for jewellery manufacturing as well as gemstone-diamond cutting and polishing in Rwanda. “With jewellery manufacturing, we will be employing about 20 local people as a start. But that is not the end,” he said. With diamond-processing, he said they will have a batch between 20 and 40 people, including local people, who will be trained for six months. “They will need more training as it requires 18 months to be seasoned. We will be taking people, including some of the orphans of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, to be able to skill them for employment,” he said. Rwanda’s mineral-value targets Despite production disruptions, Rwanda’s mining sector export revenues grew up to $730 million, against an initial target of $600 million in 2020, according to official data from the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board. However, recently, The CEO of Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board, Yamina Karitanyi, encouraged mining operators to embrace value addition to cushion the industry against price fluctuation and stabilise the country’s export revenues. “Value addition will ensure we capitalise on our country’s mineral resources. We have to ensure strategies to position the African continent to add value to our minerals, such as significantly increasing Africa’s refinery capacity which would benefit our communities and turn Africa’s endowment of mineral resources into socially responsible revenue growth and wealth,” she said.