In a bid to nature the development of the diamond cutting industry in the country, Botswana’s Diamond Hub says it is addressing the problematic manner of doing business in the sector by improving the licensing procedures.
The Diamond Hub Coordinator, Jacob Thamage, said the hub’s main priority is to grow all aspects of the diamond downstream industry; that is cutting and polishing, jewellery manufacturing, rough and polished trading and diamond support services.
“My role is to lead the development and growth of the diamond downstream industry by facilitating the ease with which the industry can operate. This includes encouraging growth and development of support services to create a cluster of activities related to and supporting the diamond industry,” said Thamage.
Thamage said the relocation of the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) functions from London to Gaborone and provides opportunities for the sectors of the economy.
The direct opportunities include diamond dealers, cutting and polishing. The list extends to services such as specialised banking, as well as secure diamond transportation.
Other sectors that will benefit include security guards and catering services. He added that the indirect and independent support include car rental, hotels and tourism.
“The role of the Hub is to ensure that the DTC Relocation happens on time and without unnecessary obstacles. The Hub ensures that all the necessary enablers, from Government and the Private Sector are in place,” he said.
The Diamond Hub Coordinator revealed that when investors see that the DTC relocation happened smoothly it will give them confidence that Botswana is able to successfully handle a complex economic process successfully. He added that without government red tape being an issue, this will boost confidence for those considering Botswana as an investment destination.
Thamage pointed out that the increase in traffic caused by the number of diamond industry visitors and increase in other activities will be an economic catalyst for industries such as hospitality, security, tourism, diamond trading and banking.
“There have been a number of meetings with some key stakeholders such as government ministries, banks, investors and sightholders. The Minister and his team also visited London to talk to Sightholders and hear their concerns,” said Thamage.
He also emphasized that DTC relocation is very important for the development of the Diamond Centre because it will increase the value of diamonds transacted in Botswana. Thamage added that it will increase the confidence of investors as well as bringing about a number of business opportunities; it will also result in more direct and indirect investment that will have a positive impact on employment.
“Be aware that Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) will start trading in September, after a successful pilot sale in July 2013. This will have a major, positive impact on the Diamond Cluster and on the development of the Diamond Centre,” he stated.
Thamage also pointed out that focus over the last two years or so has been on the relocation of DTCI; the establishment of ODC and the expansion of the cutting and polishing industry.
He said the relocation is nearing completion and that ODC has just had its pilot sale and is moving towards full operation; the cutting and polishing industry has grown from 16 to 21 factories.
“For me, the pressure of the Diamond Hub position was not and is not something I did not expect. My previous work as a Deputy PS had prepared me for the pressure. The trick is to absorb whatever it is the job throws at one and maintain focus on deliverables,” said Thamage.
He is optimistic that from next year, the focus will be on consolidation and further development of the industry, especially in the support services sub sector.