Botswana set to benefit from diamond company

“Diamonds will be available locally for cutting and polishing. This ambitious initiative will stimulate local job creation while maintaining the full value for Botswana’s diamonds,” he said. Speaking during the renewal of the Jwaneng mine lease, Penny revealed that the arrangement entails that De Beers bring diamonds from around the world to be aggregated by DTC International Botswana in Gaborone, an activity that was previously monopolised by the City of London. “This reflects the importance of Botswana as the world’s leading diamond producer and the role of government in creating the right environment for business in the country,” Penny said. DTC will house state-of-the-art technology for sorting and aggregating diamonds. A tender has been awarded to a South African construction company, Murray and Roberts, to construct the multi-million pula project, which has already started. Penny said DTC is expected to create jobs for over 600 Batswana and sort about 45 to 50 million carats per year, with an annual revenue base of over P6.5 billion. The future looks bright for DTC Botswana as it boasts of a target market, which includes South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Russia and Canada. “We are in the process of developing two more mines in Canada and also exploring in Angola and the DRC, but it is too early to predict production from these countries,” Penny said. In the past 10 years, De Beers spent about P300 million exploring for diamonds in Botswana. “Today De Beers spends over P500 million,” he said. Successful exploration has borne fruit for Debswana, a 50/50 partnership between the Botswana government and De Beers boasting of a revenue base of P15.8 billion up from P11.7 billion in the previous year, according to the 2005 annual report. The relocation of DTC to Gaborone does not come without challenges as other countries have established polishing and sorting industries at relatively cheap labour costs. China and India come out as the most serious threat. “It is expensive to cut and polish diamonds from here,” lamented Penny. The deputy chairman of Debswana ‘ also Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources ‘ Dr Akolang Tombale, agreed with Penny and added that both the signing of the mining lease and relocation of DTC would bring new life to Botswana and expedite the country’s economic diversification endeavour. The amount of skills and technological transfer, generation of extra job opportunities, and the stimulation of additional foreign investment will have a deep impact on the economy of Botswana. Tombale said that because of this development, Botswana would move from a diamond producer to a diamond trader. Former Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources David Magang expressed optimism that the relocation would end London’s monopoly as the financial and business centre. He said colonial people never wanted to set Africa up as an interntional business centre. “We are very lucky that DTC will relocate to Gaborone. This is because concentration of diamond production is done in Southern Africa, while the sale has been done in the West,” he said. Magang believes the relocation will benefit Botswana and Southern Africa. “Africa has always been deprived of what belongs to her. We have always allowed the First World to benefit from our rightful resources,” argued Magang. He pointed out that the establishment of DTC Botswana was also expected to catalyse the development of other economic sectors such as tourism, transport services, security, insurance and financial services in the country. ‘ wnAfrica

June 2006
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