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SA Diamond Conference based on theme Diamonds for Development’
Some key issues: beneficiation, producer countries, indigenous ownership, participate of countries in diamond pipeline
Nov 15 2005 12:00AM
Reference: 123  


The first South African international diamond conference was held in Windhoek on November 7, 2005. It brought together major diamond industry players to discuss issues of diamond development in Namibia and southern Africa, in particular Botswana, South Africa and Angola. The conference lasted for a day and was held under the theme ‘Diamonds for Development, a term coined to counter the infamous conflict diamonds. Speakers included De Beers Managing Director designate Gareth Penny, Lev Leviev, President and Chairman of the Leviev Group of Companies, Maurice Templesman of Lazar Kaplan International and others.

The conference was held with the view to openly discuss the prospects of the diamond industry in southern Africa. The focus was on issues such as beneficiation, jewellery manufacturing in producer countries, indigenous ownership in the industry through genuine empowerment and ways in which countries could participate at all levels of the diamond pipeline. “One of the issues to be discussed at the conference was that producer countries now sought to become true stakeholders and wanted to see more value addition to the rough diamonds,” said conference facilitator Chaim Even-Zohar of Tacy Ltd. The conference was attended by global leaders and representatives from the local diamond industry, public and private sectors, De Beers, the Leviev Group of Companies, the Lazar Kaplan International including economists and business people from the industry.

“As an industry that contributes significantly to Namibias economy, it was imperative that diamonds made a tangible contribution to improving the standard of living of Namibians. Citizens of diamond producing countries were putting pressure on their Governments to do more and secure their participation in diamond industries,” said Henock ya Kasita, the Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy while addressing the gathering on behalf of his Minister. "Concerns are specifically raised on rough diamonds that are being taken out from these countries to other countries and in this way no job opportunities and much needed skills are left for them. More cutting and polishing factories should be established and the exporting of rough diamonds be minimized to give the existing cutting and polishing factories a chance to sustain themselves and in so doing, to keep the jobs of those employed". This issue has been a thorn in the side of the Namibian Government, which has been calling for value addition to increase the contribution to the local economy.

“A review of the contract is done every five years. This was one of the issues to be discussed when the Government and De Beers meet in two weeks time for a review of their joint venture, Namdeb,” said Tjikero Tweya, Deputy Finance Minister. Namdeb General Manager Rob Smart said in his presentation that doing more with the benefits derived from diamonds was a challenge that his company could handle. Zohar also adviced that Namibia should look beyond rough diamonds and focus its attention on producing world-class jewellery, and also do diamond tourism to get more benefits from the resource. He also urged governments of producer countries to recognize the international context.

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