After the successful relocation of the Diamond Trading Center (DTC) to Botswana, the Diamond Hub is now looking to foster greater consultation with key stakeholders to maximize the benefit of having a lot of sight holders in town regularly.
“We fundamentally have the model that we wanted. It is now a question of growing it so that it gives us what we want. We now have to come up with a sound and robust strategy implementation program,” said the Coordinator of the Diamond Hub–Relocation and Opportunities–Mmetla Masire.
He pointed out that it is now very important to get the private sector to play a more active role and lure strong citizens to get more involved and take ownership. He added that there is need to build the Diamond House as a one stop shop for diamond traders and consider setting up diamond exchange and key support services. Masire believes the relocation of DTC to Botswana has increased the traffic of diamond dealers coming into the country.
“We now have ten sights per year with over 150 people coming to Botswana each time,” he said.
He added that the relocation has demonstrated to the rest of the world Botswana’s capability to handle and manage diamond transactions of a large magnitude and complexity.
“The relocation has benefited the Okavango Diamond Company because the sight holders now get an opportunity to view ODC goods and participate in auctions,” said Masire.
He pointed out that the objective of the mineral policy is to maximize the economic benefits of mining for the nation while enabling the private investor to earn competitive returns. He further explained that the policy aims to create a competitive environment that will stimulate private sector investment in mineral exploration and exploitation.
“The objective is to encourage linkages with the rest of the economy to expand value addition activities as well as to generate employment and training opportunities for Botswana’s citizens,” he said.
Masire explained that the objectives of diamond beneficiation would be to transform Botswana from a leading diamond producer by value to a global diamond centre, through licensing conditions that require new mines to market their diamonds locally. He further said the beneficiation agreement requires De Beers to conduct diamond sales in Botswana and to allocate a portion of production to the local diamond manufacturing industry. The government of Botswana and De Beers signed a 10 year contract for sorting, valuing, marketing and selling of Debswana diamond production in September 2011. De Beers then relocated its sales operations from London to Gaborone by the end of 2013.
Pursuant to the provisions of the sales agreement, Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) has been established to market the government of Botswana’s entitlement, which is 10-15 percent of Debswana production.
Regarding the Botswana sales window benefits, Masire stated that government will be able to develop firsthand knowledge of the market and build capacity in diamond marketing and sales. He added that it will give Batswana and non-sightholders opportunities to purchase Botswana diamonds and also act as a catalyst for growth of the diamond industry. Masire also revealed that the Diamond Hub has accomplished phase 1, 2 and 3 of their mission and now they are now in phase 4 which is growth, development and sustainability.
“Understanding the current situation will help us develop a way forward and come up with clear objectives and measures. We are still cooking the diamond industry and the food is not yet ready, but we are at an advanced stage and we can taste what the final product is going to be like,” said Masire.