Monday, November 29, 2021

De BEERS relocation: Botswana government still lagging behind on undertakings

The Managing Director of the Diamond Trading Company Botswana, Varda Shine, has said the relocation of De Beers trading activities to Botswana “is progressing extremely well”.

In an interview with Sunday Standard, Ms Shine said De Beers has met all their deadlines.
She said so far, seven aggregation cycles have been done from Botswana.

“I don’t want to boast about it, but I want to say migration is going very well with regard to a timetable that we agreed with the Government of Botswana.”

The only major thing, said Shine, is that the building is still to be completed, but pointed out that construction programme is ahead of schedule.

“We are going to invest P200 million in construction and additional P20 million on furniture,” she said.

In anticipation of completing the construction of office space, staff relocating from London is expected by the end of the year.

Shine said while their partners at Botswana Government are happy with progress by De Beers, there are “certain” undertakings on the government side that have to be fulfilled ahead of the actual selling of diamonds commencing next year.

She said if Botswana is to be a true world class diamond hub, those undertakings will have to be honoured without fail, not least because there is competition with other world diamond centres, but also because the customers that have to come here have expectations over which they are unwilling to compromise.

She talked of hotels, taxi services, flight connections, timely visa issuance and security.

“There are good hotels, but they are not enough. Everybody wants to be a world diamond centre. So we have to be advanced,” said Shine.

She said if the business people buying Botswana diamond come here and find that infrastructure and services like restaurants are not up to their expectations, they will simply go elsewhere or just send their technical people to represent them.

“The environment has to be good for business people. Botswana has to be a safe place. The first sale will no doubt be very exciting even though it really will be a test,” said Shine.

She said the members of DTC staff that have already relocated from London have had to put up with incidents of power cuts and water shortages.

“On safety and security, there have been a few incidents, but people are happy now,” she said.
While all the milestones have been met, especially by De Beers, Shine is of the view that the government side of the bargain is equally important.

“This is a competitive world. We need to be quick. You sneeze, you lose. For us to be a real world hub, we will depend on good and reliable flights, a good banking system, easy legislation for FDI, and also the safety and security of our guests.”

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