Ethiopia's central bank said on Thursday it will start buying and selling locally mined gold, seeking to combat the loss of more than 1,000 kg of the metal smuggled across its borders each year.
Small-scale mining in Ethiopia dates back centuries, but due to a lack of official marketing outlets tens of thousands of peasants who rely on mining for their livelihood tend to sell their produce illicitly, traders say.
Seife Desta, Director of the Banking Services and Foreign Exchange Department of the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), said the new regulations will be effective from April 18, 2005.
"Under the new regulations, NBE will purchase locally produced gold from licensed traders and producers based on current international prices," Seifa said. "NBE will then sell gold to gold ware shops in the country," he told reporters.
Seife said the NBE is also prepared to offer loans and collateral to businessmen who would like to export gold.