Subdued demand for rough diamonds in the country since last year is derailing government vision to grow the cutting and polishing industry, Diamond Hub Deputy Director, Business Office, Diana Moabe, has said.
Moabe said despite a promising start in 2014 when the De Beers Global Sightholders relocated from London to Gaborone, price fluctuations on the international market are affecting the diamond industry.
“Since 2015 there is a low utilisation of rough diamonds in the market and that compromises the beneficiation objectives of the government and in terms of generation of employment as you have seen some of the factories closing,” said Moabe last week in Gaborone while addressing players and stakeholders in the mining industry.
But she bemoaned lack of meaningful citizen participation in the local diamond industry. Moabe said the majority of players are from outside and this becomes naturally uncomfortable and the sustainability of the business will remain questionable.
“We would want to see a meaningful participation of locals in the industry,” she said and added that there is need for the government to stimulate citizen participation. She stated that the country is not naive to the fact that citizens will not be able to play to the same level with the foreign investors but can form partnerships with them.
Moabe said there are still many diamond fields that have not been fully exploited in the country. “There are so many Kimberlites that have not been exploited and there are still opportunities available. We still have the cutting and polishing and I believe we can advance it forward,” said the Diamond Hub official.
She said the local industry performed well in 2014 with the country managing to supply the local market with goods worth around US$900 million. “Although in 2015, we did not sell much due to the unfavourable business conditions and failed to exceed the US$800 million in 2016, the industry managed to supply more than US$800 million,” said Moabe.
Due to a low demand locally, Moabe said the country has seen some of the rough diamonds being shipped, affecting the transfer of skills. Moabe was however quick to point that the country should not worry as the country is determined to forge ahead and grow the industry.hat there would be specialists in place to lead such platforms.