The government of Botswana has decided to host a mini diamond conference just weeks after its reputation came under scrutiny as the political leadership of the country failed to show-up at the world’s biggest diamond conference in Antwerp, Belgium.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Kago Moshahshane, said Friday night that “our minister wants us to have a diamond conference.”
However, the planned conference is expected to look like a small workshop as the number of participants will be limited to the 16 sightholders who have been accredited to DTC Botswana compared to the Antwerp Diamond Conference which was attended by thousands of sightholders and diamond producer companies and countries from all over the world.
The Botswana government’s failure to attend the conference drew a tongue ÔÇôlash from international speakers in Antwerp recently who thought that the country and Debswana, as the biggest producer in the world, should have attended to set the pace.
“It took Botswana 40 years to realize that they can have beneficiation happen in their own country. But they are only doing that when their mines are left with only a 20-year lifespan.
“I think Botswana should aggressively pursue its interests,” Irish born- pop-star and a humanitarian, Sir Bob Geldof, said.
“This conference will only be for us and our 16 sightholders and it will be held soon,” he said, adding that it is planned for the beginning of next year.
“The reason why it can not be as close as before the end of the year is that we do not have time and manpower,” Moshashane added.
The conference comes at a time when De Beers’ DTC London, under the leadership of Varda Shine, has appointed Tim Dabson as the new Director for Beneficiation. Dabson flew into the country two weeks ago to lay the foundation for the beneficiation process. Before leaving Antwerp he told The Sunday Standard, “We have a long standing relationship with the Botswana government and the people of Botswana and will do all that we can to see that Botswana benefits from the process,” he said.
BotswanaÔÇö through Debswana ÔÇö is strategically important for DTC London which is a 100 percent subsidiary of De Beers because it is the world biggest diamond producer. Last year, Botswana produced 34 million carats accounting for over US$ 2 billion.
Dabson, who will be overseing the whole process across southern Africa, was dispatched to Gaborone as part of wooing diamond business to Botswana which is worth over US$ 70 billion a year. The former boss of Teemane Manufacturing Company in Serowe is fighting a war against regional economic power-house South Africa on behalf of Botswana.
“All what we need to do is to create opportunities for Batswana. DTC London will be bringing our sorting and expertise to Botswana,” Dabson said.
Meanwhile, the Botswana government told The Sunday Standard on Friday night that there were not invited to the Israeli Rough Diamond Conference that is taking place in Tel Aviv in early February.
The conference is aimed at shoring-up Israeli diamond polishing and jewellery retail market as the best in the world. According to the details supplied by the Israeli Diamond Institute, African producer countries’ government officials and ministers are expected to attend.