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- Hilma Hashange
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Botswana President, Seretse Khama Ian Khama paid a visit to the Namibian Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) offices this Wednesday during the last leg of his state visit to Namibia. Khama, accompanied by Mines and Energy Minister, Errki Nghimtina and Deputy Minister Isak Katali, was escorted on this tour to see the diamond sorting process first hand.
The NDTC, a joint venture partnership between the government and De Beers, was formed in 2007 as part of a sorting, valuing and marketing agreement with the key focus of developing a sustainable national downstream diamond industry in the country. The intention behind the NDTC is to keep more of the value chain in Namibia, and that local diamond sorting will act as a catalyst for other international businesses to invest in the country and provide a much greater stream of revenue for the country as a whole, benefiting all Namibians through sales tax, VAT, stamp duties, increased employment and a better educated and skilled workforce.
Diamonds have been declared a ‘strategic resource’ that will contribute significantly to realising the Vision 2030 goals. Diamonds and other minerals are responsible for at least 25% of national income and approximately 15% of the gross domestic product. In 2011, NDTC made available some US$250 million of Namdeb’s production, representing approximately 5% of Namibia’s gross domestic product (GDP).
During discussionis with President Khama on Monday at State House, President Pohamba said that the envisaged relocation of De Beers Diamond Trading Company from London to Gaborone is a step in the right direction, which will bring more value adding, development of skills and transfer of technologies to southern Africa. “ A number of diamond polishing factories have been established in the country and we therefore look forward to working closely with Botswana to expand and strenghten value addition to diamonds in our two countries.” Pohamba added.
According to Paige Ekandjo, NDTC ‘s Marketing and Communications officer, there is a huge difference in quality between local diamonds and those from Botwsana. “Our country’s diamonds are 90% gems and are considered to be of higher quality than those from Botswana, which are only 10% gems, “ Ekandjo said.
In September 2011, a new 10-year Sales Agreement between De Beers and the government of Botswana was announced. As part of this agreement, the DTC will relocate its London-based sales activities to Botswana by the close of 2013 while diamond aggregation activities will relocate by the third quarter of 2012. The relocation would mean that only diamonds bigger than 10.8 carat will be aggregated in London while all smaller diamonds will now be aggregated in Gaborone.
It is hoped that the expansion of diamond activities by DTC Botswana and the migration of the sales function of DTC International to Gaborone in 2013 will give rise to growth in secondary business sectors such as banking, security, and IT.
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