Geita. It’s morning hours when a group of young men squeeze in a room filled with gas cylinders, the gold smelting room at the town’s gold market.
Small miners arrive in the room to clean the gold catch before moving to the clearing offices before selling the yellowish metal.
“It’s easier nowadays to clean and sell gold in this center,” says Joseph Michael who had arrived at the smelting room to clean his gold before taking it to the market.
Both international market and local minimum prices are displayed on the wall for the sellers to know the market.
“Formerly, we used other people, most of them, smugglers. This market has brought about changes to the way gold is traded in our region,” he adds.
The Geita Gold Market, which is estimated to trade gold worth Sh1.8 billion per day, is one of the new faces emerging in the town during the last five years, which simplified the business for both miners and dealers.
“Apart from the convenience for both dealers and miners, the market has actually increased our business,” says gold dealer Kanuda Makono.
“Before the establishment of the market, I could hardly get 500 grams of gold per day, but today I collect up to 3 kilogrammes per day,” he says.
For the town council, the market surrounded by banks, shops, government offices such as immigration, mining commission and Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) is also a blessing as it collects fees.
“This market has not only reduced smuggling of gold,but also collected some Sh886 million from fees around the market,” says Geita Town planning officer Emmanuel Magessa.
Mr Magessa, who led a visit to other development projects implemented in the last five years under president John Magufuli said the town was seriously transforming.
Geita is home to gold mining with big companies like Geita Gold Mine, which conducts large-scale mining.
Small-scale miners are also available and recently President John Magufuli promised to allocate more areas for them if he wins his is re-elected.
Tanzania’s earnings from gold and other minerals have been on the rise during the past few years, thanks partly to rising global prices and the establishment of mineral centres.
For instance, Tanzania’s foreign exchange earnings from gold rose by close to $1 billion in just one year.
On a month-to-month basis, Tanzania earned $266.8 million in July 2020 alone from gold exports, compared to the $129.4 million that was earned in July 2019, a new report by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) shows.
Gold exports increased by 52.8 percent during the year to July 31, 2020. The country earned $2.72 billion in the year that ended on July 31, 2020 from gold exports, up from the $1.78 billion earned in the corresponding period in 2019.
Gold officially overtook tourism as the country’s major foreign exchange earner in May, 2020.
Minerals minister Doto Biteko told The Citizen earlier this year that during the first six months of the 2019/20 fiscal year, the government collected Sh242.05 billion, compared to Sh152 billion collected the previous year.
The amount collected in the first half of this financial year is a 103 percent of the targeted Sh235 billion. He attributed the upward trend to improvement in business environment after cutting bureaucracy and cracking down on corruption.
He said the government’s decision to establish regional minerals trading centres, increased investors’ confidence as it cut red tape in the issuing of export permits.
During the visit of the ongoing and completed projects, Mr Magessa displayed five projects worth Sh25.3 billion that include the gold market.
Geita is also implementing a Sh7.2 billion modern abattoir that is expected to even process meat for exportation.
The abattoir is 95 percent complete and is expected to commence operations this October, according to Mr Magesse.
Geita town has a newly built market for small traders, a new council’s headquarters under construction and a referral hospital which started operations on September 7, 2020.
“This new hospital has brought about specialized services to the region,” says Dr Brian Mawalla who heads the health facility.
“Once completed, it will add some 428 new hospital beds on top of 250 beds that were available previously,” he adds. The projects which are expected to change the face of Geita town will complete before the end of the year, officials said.
“We really thank president Magufuli for implementing these projects which are a milestone in our region. There are many other projects like roads, water, etc., which are implemented and we are sure there will be more,” says the Geita region information officer, Mr Paul Zahoro.