The Botswana diamond polishing industry is expected to get a boost as the world’s renowned gemological institute, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is planning to open its branch in Gaborone before the end of the year.
Senior Vice President of GIA, Tom Moses told Sunday Standard that “ GIA should be opening the laboratory sometime in the fourth quarter and will begin to offer education classes in the first quarter of 2009.
“By being located in Botswana, we hope to provide timely service to the growing diamond manufacturing community there and also offer training to employs of the factories through education offerings.
“We will also offer scholarship to local citizen which we hope will strengthen the knowledge base of Botswana employees,” Moses said.
GIA which is expected to open its offices at the Diamond Technology Park has already employed 20 people who will run Botswana office and be a link with the DTC Botswana’s 16 sightholders.
The new move is aimed at meeting the country’s quest of being the “ the best diamond address in the world” both as the world’s leading a producer, marketing ,sorting , valuing, manufacturing and aggregation of diamonds by 2011.
DTC Botswana will sell rough diamonds to the value of US $ 360 million(P 2.1 billion) to its sightholders in 2008, with this amount set to grow to US $ 550 million by 2009. The purpose of this agreement is to maximize the long term value that Botswana derives from diamonds.
The move is part of the agreement that led to the renewal of Jwaneng mining lease between Botswana government and De Beers which gave DTC Botswana the responsibility for sorting, valuing, marketing and ultimately moving aggregation activities from London to Gaborone.
The new developments which are coming up with a package of Botswana based diamond cutting and polishing companies will create 3000 new jobs which are directly linked to diamond manufacturing.
While the process of aggregation will not commence until next year, the start of the three ÔÇôyear contract which commence in March 2008 plans are being put in place by Brian McDonald, the head of DTC Botswana ÔÇöa 50/50 joint venture between De Beers and Botswana .
McDonalds is keeping his midnight oil burning to ensure that part of the aggregation starts here as early as 2009.
His assignment is expected to give Botswana a grip on both locally and internationally produced diamond which is a status that has been enjoyed by London over the last 3000 years.
Already, Botswana through its four mines owned by DebswanaÔÇö a 50/50 joint venture ÔÇô with De Beers is the world’s leading producer by value having recorded 34 million carats at its last reporting period year ÔÇö equivalent to 30 percent of world’s production.
The move will enable DTC Botswana employees to gain enough experience and skill before the transition of moving operations from London to Gaborone.
According to the plan De Beers world-wide rough diamonds production will start to be sorted, marketed and aggregated from Gaborone starting in March 2011. At the same time DTC Botswana will serve all De Beers sightholders including the state diamond commissioners from the neighbouring countries.
The development will mean that all De Beers production from Canada, Namibia and South Africa including other potential mining areas ÔÇô e.g Angola and DRC ÔÇö will come to Gaborone for aggregation.
The relocation of sorting, marketing, valuing and aggregation to Botswana is expected to come with added benefits to the economy, such as, employment creation ÔÇô directly and indirectly- linked to cutting and polishing.
And other area will include banking as ABN AMRO has already indicated that it will open its offices in Gaborone.
Further, Gaborone will have to be aligned with other international diamond centers, such as, Antwerp, Dubai, London, Mumbai and Tel Aviv by attracting the first five star hotels in the country, international insurance companies, security companies, top class restaurants and courier services into Gaborone. All said and done the relocation will create a total of about 5000 jobs.
However, move will call on government to improve the standard of roads within the city, expand Sir Seretse Khama International Airport improve the service of Air Botswana.