Botswana claimed its rightful stance in the international diamond market last week by launching Diamond Trading Company (DTC) Botswana which will take over the activities that have been performed by DTC London.
DTC Botswana is the world’s most sophisticated diamond sorter, valuing and marketing arm in the world.
“Mr President and distinguished guests this is no ordinary sorting and valuing facility; it is the largest most sophisticated building of its kind in the world today and costs about P 471 million (US $ 83 million),” the managing director of De Beers, Gareth Penny, said.
The building is equipped with some of the most advanced machines, such as Boris II and Iris, which are able to differentiate the colour of diamonds more than what a human eye can do.
The machines, 39 in number, were manufactured by De Beers’ Research and Development unit in the United Kingdom.
“These machines are not available on the open market but De Beers manufactures them for the exclusive use by the company’s operations and those of its partners and, therefore, afford the partnership in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa strategic leverage over our competitors,” he said.
The new development is one of the largest commercial activities from Europe into Africa that will see DTC Botswana selling rough diamonds to its clients to the tune of US $ 550 million by next year.
Further, through its 16 clients and some associated activities, the move will create new jobs in excess of 3000.
So far, before insurance, the banking sector and the hotel and hospitality, gemological activities, watch and jewellery manufacturing the polishing and manufacturing have already added 2,200 jobs since the third quarter of last year, and close to 1000 more jobs are expected before the end of this year.
“Welcome to the building that is an example of one of the largest transfers of commercial activities from Europe into Africa ever. For instance, it is estimated that the value of economic activity resulting from the US $ 550 worth of rough diamonds sold to DTC Botswana clients by end of 2009 equates to near three percent of Botswana’s GDP while an estimated US $ 6 billion will come in and be exported from the country when beneficiation starts in 2009,” Penny said.
DTC Botswana has put up a giant structureÔÇöequivalent to six rugby fields ÔÇô along the road to Sir Seretse Khama International Airport. The building is fitted with the most advanced diamond technology in the world and will start doing the sorting, valuing and aggregation of goods starting from next year.
Over this year, however, it will only restrict itself to sorting, valuing and selling some US $ 370 million worth of economically cuttable diamonds. The DTC Botswana’s clients will be sold goods above two grainer to ensure that their business and government’s drive towards beneficiation do survive and succeed.
At that pick, the whole programme is expected to create over 3,000 jobs in various sectors, such as cutting and polishing, diamond banking, courier services and insurance.
The former Managing Director of Teemane Diamond Manufacturing in Serowe, now the head of the beneficiation programme in London, Tim Dabson, said the opening of DTC Botswana on March 18, this year marked a new chapter in the economic development of the country.
“These are exciting times for Botswana. DTC is a magnificent facility that Botswana has got. Botswana moves forward into the new chapter of its economic development,” he said.
Dabson said the historic building, Orapa House ÔÇô a symbol of diamond mining and economic prosperity of the countryÔÇöwill soon be refurbished and turned into a Diamond Centre with a view of imparting knowledge on the value chain of the diamond industry.
“Orapa House is something of an icon within the Gaborone sky-line. We are going to do something like a Diamond Centre here. It has to have a complete range of diamond components,” he said.
“There is a belief that diamonds are sort of an enigma. For this to be sustainable it needs a strong partnership between government- DTC Botswana- sight holders. And they should polish a range of goods that would add value,” he said.
Dabson, who is an old hand in the industry and having worked in Botswana before, said that there, will be an opportunity for people to come to the Orapa House to learn more about diamonds.
He said with that in mind there is a connection and an opportunity between tourism and diamonds which needs to be explored.