Moti Ganz, chairman of the Israeli Diamond Institute (IDI), and President of Israeli Diamond Manufacturers Association said that Africa holds the greatest economic opportunities today and urged the industry to invest in Africa as part of the diamond beneficiation process.
Speaking in Tel Aviv recently at a conference marking 50 years of economic cooperation between Israel and Africa, Ganz praised the rise of stable democratic regimes in Africa ÔÇöand Botswana in particular ÔÇô saying the new developments provide a greater call for “beneficiation” on the part of African diamond producer countries.
He said that Israeli diamond manufacturers have recognized the economic opportunity, and are leading the creation of a local manufacturing industry, alongside the mining activities in producing countries.
So far, the three leading diamond producer countries of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa are at the fore-front of the beneficiation process with cutting and polishing centers which are complimented by the establishment of their national diamond trading centers.
Since the move, about 70 De Beers sight holders have established their operations in the southern African region. The majority of the sight holders are from Belgium, India, Israel, London and United States of America.
“Israeli companies are establishing diamond polishing plants in Africa, are training workers and are also giving back to the community by supporting medical and educational programs,” Ganz said.
Ganz said that De Beers has brought a number of its sight holders, including Israeli companies, to Botswana and has committed to manufacturing $500 million worth of polished diamonds there. The rest of Botswana’s rough production of $3.5 billion will be distributed throughout the global industry, with a portion being sold directly to Israel. This, Ganz said, will help to ensure a continuous supply of rough diamonds to the Israeli industry.
Ganz said that his own experience in setting up a cutting and polishing factory in Botswana shows the great importance that the Botswana government places on attracting investors.
“It is easier for me to work in Botswana than in Israel. You feel the respect and warmth they have for you when you arrive there. They know that Israelis are entrepreneurs and are in it for the long term. The Botswana government welcomes investors and is helping me at every step of the way,” he said.
Further, on Tuesday IDI signed a landmark memorandum of understanding with Liberia. The MoU recognizes the strategic importance of the diamond industries to both countries and the mutual benefit to be gained by enhanced cooperation.
Under the MoU, which was signed in Tel Aviv, IDI will offer the services of its top diamond specialists to assist the government of Liberia in establishing a firm and stable diamond infrastructure.
Ganz said, “We are very pleased to have come to this agreement with the Government of Liberia, which we believe is of strategic importance to The Israeli Diamond Industry. Liberia has made significant strides in instituting democracy and rule of law. Liberia’s future is filled with diamonds. This agreement will enable us to create significant ties with Liberia’s emerging diamond industry. At the same time, we can contribute our experience to the Liberian government in helping to develop the infrastructure for a healthy diamond industry. We believe that this is the first step in a long process of cooperation between our two countries.”
Eli Avidar, Managing Director of IDI said, “With the rapid changes taking place within the world diamond industry, it is imperative to take actions to strengthen our relations with the diamond producing countries. This agreement is a further step in that strategy, which we embarked on in early 2007. It is, we hope, the first of several such agreements. These steps will make an important contribution to the expansion and further development of the Israeli Diamond Industry and will increase our presence throughout the world diamond market.”
Liberia was admitted into the Kimberly Process in May this year following years of bloody civil wars that claimed thousands of lives.
Meanwhile, The Israeli Diamond Industry will be holding the Third International Rough Diamond Conference on February 11 ÔÇô 12, 2008 in Tel Aviv. The conference is expected to bring a large number of leaders of African countries, as well as heads of mining companies from around the world. Ganz said that this conference is aimed at strengthening the Israeli Diamond Industry’s ties with both producing countries and mining companies.