The Legislator for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has proposed for the government to increase the 15 percent allocation of natural diamonds for sales at Okavango Diamond Company (ODC).
MP Letsholo was responding to national budget statement by the Minister of Finance and stated that they have of recent times enjoyed hearing that Okavango Diamond Company is doing very well with sales revenues about to surpass the P10bn mark.
“The diamond industry is shifting and so should our approach. With only a few years left before the end of mine for a number of our mines, we should seek to maximize the value extracted,” said Letsholo.
He is of the view that the setup of the Okavango Diamond company was a stroke of genius which must be supported, harnessed and leveraged. He also stated that one cannot help but notice that De Beers doesn’t appear to have many mines but simply makes money through the application of their expertise and experience. He further stated that more than 50 years since the establishment of Debswana and the development of local expertise in diamond mining, he proposed that the Botswana government establishes its own diamond company outside of and to the exclusion of De Beers and possibly form joint ventures with the rest of the world, utilising the knowledge accumulated by Botswana citizens since 1966. Letsholo believes that this will enable Botswana to create revenues from their experience and expertise in diamond extraction, sorting, valuing, and even after they run out of diamonds in the next couple of years.
“Do not tell me your strategy. Show me your budget and I will know your strategy,” he said.
He stated that the current budget has the opportunity to reflect a clear path out of the desert for Batswana, one that involves them, challenges them, and demands the best of them. He is of the view that the people deserve a budget that solves real problems for Batswana, and that is steadfastly focused on the vision of prosperity for all in 2036.
Recently ODC said the demand for diamond jewelry and polished and rough diamonds is expected to grow through the first half of 2022. ODC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mmetla Masire has confirmed that 2022 has started on a bullish note and that barring any global setbacks, the outlook for the first quarter is for the market to remain strong. He observed that demand for diamonds was strong throughout 2021.
“Strong demand for diamond jewelry and depleted inventories translated into price growth. Profit margins across the value chain quickly recovered to prepandemic levels,” said Masire.
Masire observed that in 2020 diamond Jewelry sales went down by 14 percent and that rough diamonds sales also went down 31 percent. He stated that in 2021, jewelry sales went up by 29 percent and that cutting and polishing also shot up by 55 percent.