Midlands State University (MSU)’s Faculty of Engineering and Geosciences former student, Eng. Clever Sithole is flying the University’s flag high in Afghanistan where he is heading the first-ever and leading gemstones processing project funded by USAID. The project comprising a gemstones laboratory and a lapidary centre is aimed at promoting value addition and beneficiation of precious stones in the Middle East country.

Engineer Sithole, who is the current Head Gemologist at the new gemstone processing centre and whose current role involves the identification and certification of gemstones, studied for a Mining Engineering and Minerals Processing degree with Midlands State University between 2016-2020.

To complement his academic training with MSU, Engineer Sithole received accreditation and training from various world-class gemstone institutes across the globe in countries such as Belgium, India, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, Spain, and South Africa.

The Afghan processing centre is set to add value to rough and uncertified precious stones that were being exported to countries like Pakistan, India and the United Arab Emirates, thereby prejudicing the Afghan economy of millions of dollars in potential revenue.

Engineer Sithole intends to plough back into the institution that helped mould him by contributing to curriculum development of the envisaged Gemology degree which is soon to be introduced by MSU subject to ZIMCHE approval.

“My being here will certainly benefit my home country and training institution MSU. I will transfer the knowledge and skills I have acquired over the years by participating in the review of the Gemology programme,” said Sibanda.

Value addition and beneficiation of precious stones have long been proposed by economists as the panacea to the social and economic development challenges of mineral-rich developing countries like Zimbabwe that are currently failing to realise optimum value from their vast deposits of precious gems.

Engineer Sithole has experience in evaluating diamonds and various coloured stones, mining extraction methods, gemstone pricing and marketing, mine planning, due diligence, and mine feasibility analysis.

His gemological training includes practical training at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), HRD Antwerp Institute of Gemology, Indian Diamond Institute, EGL (SA), Swiss Scientific Gemology Institute (SSEF), GemeWizard/GemColor Academy of Israel. He completed theoretical training with the World Gem Foundation (WGF) of Spain. He is also an Associate Member of the Accredited Gemologists Association (AGA) in the United States.

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