Tim Dabson, the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) London’s recently appointed diamond beneficiation chief, arrived in Gaborone on Wednesday to try to set-up systems targeted at ensuring that aggregation of stone from Gaborone to London goes according to plan.
Dabson left AntwerpÔÇö the Belgian diamond city on TuesdayÔÇö with the aim that Botswana reaps opportunities in the process despite the fact that the southern African state’s political leadership showed little interest in the just ended conference. President Festus Mogae, Minerals and Energy Minister, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, and Charles Tibone were invited but all did not turn-up.
“We have a long standing relationship with the Botswana government and the people of Botswana and all that we would like to see happen is 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’s biggest diamond producer. Last year, Botswana produced 34 million carats accounting for over US$ 2 billion.
Dabson, who will be overseeing the whole process across southern Africa, was dispatched to Gaborone as part of wooing the over US $ 70 billion a year diamond business to Botswana. The former boss of Teemane Manufacturing Company in Serowe is fighting a war against regional economic power-house, South Africa, on behalf of Botswana.
On Tuesday, the South African delegation, led by Mineral and Energy Minister, Buyelwa Sonjica, staged a road-show at the Antwerp World Diamond CentreÔÇö the nerve of the diamond industryÔÇö urging investors to come to South Africa. South Africa, which is fast losing its grip over diamond production because its mines are nearing depletion, was using KimberleyÔÇö the first town where diamonds were discovered around 1800, as its marketing flagship, saying that it will also be the place to host the next world diamond academy.
“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.
According to the plan, DTC Botswana will start business in January but the official opening will be deferred until the beginning of March.
Next year, DTC Botswana will sell diamonds valued at US $ 370 million to local sightholders. The following year, this will be adjusted to US $ 500 million. And from 2011 onwards, DTC Botswana reserves the right to handle all the production from Botswana and will be free to buy from other countries as well. The arrangements were negotiated between De Beers and the Botswana government, through an Israeli consultancy company, LEK, which was assisted by Chaim Even-Zohar.
Some of the benefits which De Beers will bring to the table include its trusted clients who number 92. Today, only 16 of them have been admitted as sightholders by the Botswana government.
“It is a matter of public record that DTC London is moving to Botswana. That is a big task that we see within DTC London. And we have to ensure that all these do happen smoothly. Of course, these things are very complex but we have to see what opportunities are there for Batswana,” Dabson said.