Botswana should think beyond just diamonds – De Beers executive

As Botswana welcomes the relocation of the De Beers Global Sightholder Sales (DGSS) operations from London, United Kingdom to Gaborone, the Company’s executives have emphasised that beneficiation is not a corporate social responsibility but a commercial viability that allows a company to compete.

As a result, they pointed out the need to be competitive and produce what is economically viable. This was revealed at a press briefing last week by the Company executives as they gave an update on the relocation.
Outgoing DGSS Executive Vice President, Varda Shine last week emphasised that the international sightholders are likely to open operations in Botswana in various areas. Shine was optimistic that the future looks bright and it is important to recognise that this is a multi-billion investment.

“We need to think wider than just diamonds. It is important as Botswana to think for the future as to what other aspects can these sightholders invest in Botswana. For those willing to go into the diamond industry, there are opportunities beyond cutting and polishing; therefore the aspirants should make sure that they get involved and acquire skills and knowledge of the diamond industry,” she advised.

Shine said De Beers conducts 10 sights every year with each generating an average of US$500million (close to P4, 3billion), making it US$5billion (close to P43billion) annually.She noted that the sales are seasonal.
Gazette Business further understands that 60-65 per cent of the diamonds sold will be from Botswana. The other diamonds which will be sold are from Canada, Namibia and South Africa.
Diamond Trading Company Botswana Managing Director, Tabake Kobedi said that there has been an improvement in the skills transfer in the factories for the last five years and Batswana have been able to obtain managerial positions.

Although he did not provide statistics, Kobedi said that “Batswana are capable; there is hope that we will see more and more transition and we will have more skilled Batswana in the industry going forward.”