Where is Tanzanian money made?

The average monthly per capita income in Tanzania is around 45 US dollars. This number only to illustrate how Saniniu Laizer should feel now. The man has 30 children and, like many compatriots, earns his living as a miner and gem seeker - and either he was a lot of luck or he is really very good at his job. Laizer has found the two largest tanzanite gemstones in the country's history. The forearm-sized crystals together weigh more than 14 kilograms and are worth $ 3.35 million.

That has to be celebrated, thinks the newly minted millionaire Laizer, and wants to throw a big party first. But he also wants to use his newly gained wealth - the government has already bought the crystals - for the long-term well-being of his country. "I want to build a shopping center and a school near my home," he quotes Guardian Laizer. "Lots of poor people around here can't afford to have their children go to school." He never went to school himself.

Tanzanite can only be found in this purity in a small area in northeastern Tanzania. It is a slightly blue shimmering type of the mineral zoisite. But because zoisite sounds similar to the English word for suicide, suicide, it was decided at the Tiffany jeweler to simply name the gemstone after its place of origin.

But back to the lucky finder. Not only was he allowed to show the giant crystals on Tanzanian television, he also received a call from President John Magufuli. The corona denier is increasingly ruling the country with a hard hand and evaluating the find as proof of the wealth of Tanzania. When it comes to raw material deposits such as precious stones, gold, ore or natural gas, he is certainly right. Only the theoretical wealth of the country hardly reaches many of its citizens. As a result of the corona pandemic, the important tourism sector has recently collapsed.

This makes mining all the more important for the country. So that gemstone and gold prospectors like Saniniu Laizer, who are not employed by one of the big companies, can more easily convert their finds into cash, the government recently set up centers where men can sell gold and crystals to the authorities. This is also intended to prevent illegal trade and smuggling.