Business confidence rose by a huge 41 percent from a slump of negative 12 percent last year, a report by an international audit firm, Grant Thornton said last week.
“Over the past year, we have seen the establishment of diamond cutting and polishing industries, the shifting part of the activities of the diamond trading centre from London to Botswana and the development of the copper and nickel refining project. These actions are expected to fuel the increase in economic activity,” the report said.
The Diamond ParkÔÇöcomposed on the cutting and polishing firm ÔÇö which is expected to complement the establishment of the DTC Botswana are due to be on stream by early next year.
So far, 15 companies have been accredited by government to operate in the cutting and polishing.
The move comes at a time when the polishing companies in the country have just reported their first profits since they started operating here nearly two decades ago.
“We have invested huge amounts in the new technology and since then we have seen a great improvement in out cuts and quality of diamonds. And, at the same time, we have made our first profit,” Finance Manager, Marina de Jager, told The Sunday Standard and Diamond Intelligence Briefs on Monday.
The talk about profit in the diamond cutting industry at a time when most of the manufacturers are based in Asian countries ÔÇö China, India and Thailand ÔÇö where the labour cost is very low by world standards, is good news to Botswana, which is about to aggressively embark on that path.
“We polish anything from pin-point up to one carat in this company. We have introduced a range of brands, such as fancy emeralds to complement our Leo Brand. And all the goods are shipped to our 2000 stores around the world,” she added.
The improvements in the fortunes of the Leo Schachter is being helped by the new machinery which is able to define the cut, colour and clarity of the stone more than a human eye.
The move towards new diamond technology in Botswana, so that it can effectively compete with the countries from the east, was first signaled by Moti Ganz, head of the Israeli Diamond Council.
“ Israel has the best technology in the world as 80 percent of the world’s new technology comes from there. And as such, we do have the opportunity to build factory from zero,” Moti Ganz, president of Israeli Diamond Council and head of Moti Ganz diamond manufacturing company, said.
Three Israeli diamond polishing companies are part of the 15 companies which have been given a thumps up to operate in the Diamond Technology Park geared towards the diversification of the industry.
According to government, 3 000 jobs are to be created by the new development, which is in line with other international operations such as in Israel and Antwerp in Belgium, but , industry players said both direct and indirect jobs figure will be over 5, 000 within the next three-to-four years.
The announcement by Ganz comes at a time when the Israeli diamond industry is on the verge of launching Itech system, a new technology which is aimed at matching cheaper and faster diamond labour force in China.
The DTC will initially have the accredited companies as its sight holders and the value of diamonds to be sold to them is estimated to be around US $ 550 million. However, there is a concern about the readiness of the city council for the new developments. If Botswana is to compete, it has to organize its roads, hotel accommodation to five star standards. Museums and entertainment also need to be upgraded to world standard and establish restaurants that can serve at least one thousand different beers and wine brands to the wealth and international diamond sight holders.