Ghana is seeking to harness the economic potential of its local jewelry industry to boost wealth and job creation, said Nana Akwasi Awuah, Managing Director of the Precious Minerals Marketing Company at the declaration exhibition. gold and jewelry in 2021.
Ghana overtook South Africa as the continent’s largest gold producer with 4.8 million ounces in 2018 and increased production to 5.0 million ounces in 2020, despite the pandemic of COVID-19.
But the country, originally known as the Gold Coast until independence in 1957, exports almost all of that gold in its raw state, forcing local jewelers to import refined gold to higher costs to produce jewelry.
“When you engage with jewelers, they point to raw materials as their biggest challenge,” Awuah said when the three-day program opened on Thursday.
Because of this paradox, he said jewelry made in Ghana has become more expensive than imported jewelry, causing local jewelers to lose price competition with importers.
“Another major challenge facing the local industry is that, unfortunately, jewelry made in Ghana is denied access to international markets due to responsible mining concerns,” he said.
Despite these challenges, Awuah said, once reorganized, the sector promises to become a major source of jobs and wealth creation in the country.
In order to create a reliable raw material base for local jewelers, he said, the government has launched a retention program in which 30 percent of all locally produced gold will be withheld to begin with.
“Ultimately, the government’s goal is to have Ghana retain a greater percentage of the gold produced in the country and refine it. We have to keep them and process them right here in Ghana. Both large and small scale, and use them to feed local industry, ”he said.
In collaboration with an Indian company, PMMC is currently building a state-owned gold facility to refine at least 400 kg of yellow metal per day, and PMMC MD said that with the already existing private refinery, there are would have at least 800 kg of locally refined gold per day to feed the local industry.
“The volume of gold leaving the country is so large. In 2018, when we became the number one gold producer in Africa, we exported around 141.1 tonnes, and we need the capacity to refine all that gold instead of exporting it raw, while our jewelers import refined gold at a higher cost, ”he added.
He said: “It’s time to change the narrative by reversing this trend so that we can refine our gold here in Ghana. “
“Once you have a refinery in place, it’s a critical part of the value chain, and when you refine gold to 99.99% purity, the value goes up because the price or value of gold is based on its purity, which brings in more income, ”added the CEO of PMMC.
Once done, he said Ghanaian jewelry producers would be able to reclaim the local market and expand their footprint in other African countries as part of the African Continental Free Trade Area initiative. (AfCFTA).
“We are working with the Ghana Export Promotion Agency to take advantage of the African market, especially under AfCFTA, and we intend to ensure that jewelry made in Ghana can enter the international market. “Awuah said.
To pave the way for local producers in the international market, the World Bank has helped the country deal with the problems of irresponsible mining, on the basis of which jewelry items made in Ghana are denied access to the global market. jewelry.
Ghana is also actively seeking to accede to the Hallmark Convention which standardizes the quality of jewelry globally so that Ghanaian jewelry is accepted worldwide.
“One of the feedback from the international market is that our finish is not of the best quality. We therefore engage with higher education institutions such as Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University of Mining and Technology and Asanska College of Jewelry, to promote the jewelry industry by strengthening the capabilities of our jewelers, ”he added.
Judy Nakuor Crayem, Managing Director (CEO) of Rapport Services, organizer of the annual Gold Declaration events, was optimistic that with the government’s efforts to ensure responsible mining in Ghana, local industry would have access to the world stage.
Crayem observed that many jewelry merchants in Ghana had become more comfortable importing their wares from elsewhere due to the neglect of the local industry over the years.
“People found the easy way to shop outside and there was the easy way to import cheap jewelry into the country. But to ensure that your country is well recognized, you must make an effort, put everything necessary in place, with the right collaborations. This is what we do, ”she added.
As technology evolved, she said it was time to teach young jewelers how to use simple software to design their products and give them a finish that would meet global standards and make Ghanaian products competitive.
Richard Prah, CEO of City of Gold Jewelries in Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city, said it was time for Ghanaian authorities to restructure the gold and jewelry market to build an appropriate industry.
“As we speak, there is no jewelry industry in Ghana because there are no proper standards, and that leaves a lot to be desired. Indeed, foreign jewelers have in fact taken control of the Ghanaian market, ”Prah said.
The jeweler called for appropriate investments to design and redevelop the entire mineral value chain in the country so that Ghana can reap the expected benefits.
“With a growing youth unemployment rate in Ghana, the jewelry industry alone has the capacity to absorb a lot of our young people, designers, actual manufacturers and even marketing and administration,” he said. said Prah.
The 2021 Gold Declaration, Conference and Exhibitions, which culminate Saturday with an awards gala evening, was held under the theme: “Promoting Collaboration for the Advancement of Gold and responsible jewelry: the Ghana project ”.