- Talks with more companies are promising
The growing number of international diamond groups migrating to Botswana is as a result of the six months long Dubai Expo that Botswana participated in to attract investors to the country, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mmusi Kgafela, has told Parliament.
Minister Kgafela was responding to the MP for Nata-Gweta, Polson Majaga, who wanted to know how much money was accumulated at the Dubai Expo, when investors can be expected to set up industries in Botswana, and whether they will be going into joint venture with Batswana.
“Quick results that we were able to see are in the diamond cutting and polishing industry that created jobs,” Kgafela said.
“We went to Dubai to showcase what our country can offer and to create relations. Business is not something that happens instantly. Results can happen instantly while others can take long to bear fruit.”
Diamond groups and jobs
Kgafela added that diamond companies that have already started operations in Botswana include the Sheetal Group that has created 68 jobs, Diarough Diamonds with 45 jobs, Parishi Diamonds with 24 jobs, Dianco Botswana with 23 jobs, Genesis HB Botswana with 30 jobs, Source Cutting Works with 70 jobs and Rosy Blue Facets with 65 jobs.
“Three Hundred and Twenty-five jobs have been created but the extent at which these companies have invested in the buildings and ensuring that the technology they use is installed is an investment of about P176 million,” said the minister.
“There are more companies that we are still in talks with and they are promising.”
Partnerships with Batswana
Commenting on whether the diamond companies have a binding requirement to partner with Batswana, Kgafela said they always encourage foreign investors to transfer skills to Batswana and they usually place managerial skills in the hands of Batswana.
“Cutting and polishing of diamonds involves high technology that the owners of the intellectual property will not give away so easily,” he asserted. “We haven’t to-date had locals who have the technology to do the business.
“So, you find across the spectrum the cutting and polishing of diamonds is in the hands of businesses that have existed for generations. Most of them that are here are fourth generation businesses, mostly from Asia, which explains why the business is in their hands.”
Dairy and juice maker
Minister Kgafela singled out Al Rawabi as one of the leading dairy and juice companies in United Arab Emirates (UAE) that have shown interest in operating in Botswana and have been scouting for a place to operate from.
After traversing the country to find a suitable space, Kgafela said the company considered a partnership with the Milk Afric facility in Lobatse. “Investing is about give-and-take,” he noted.
“We are in talks with other investors who have asked for tariffs in our water and electricity as they are deemed expensive, and I am yet to speak to ministers in those respective ministries to see if there is something we can agree to do.
“If we agree to reduce the tariff so that projects become sustainable, we will see these investors coming into the country.”
Dubai Expo Expenditure
Kgafela disclosed that P10.1 million was used for the Dubai Expo but their budget was P33 million. The UAE assisted by paying for amenities and services needed by the Botswana contingent, which came to a total expenditure of about P19 million.
Minister Kgafela said private companies in Botswana also assisted during the expo.