President Mokgweetsi Masisi says his government is in the process of ensuring that citizens are actively involved in the diamond industry for their benefit. Masisi was speaking at the Diamond Conference held in Gaborone on Tuesday.
The conference, organised by global mining giant, De Beers and the Botswana government, is intended to promote and strengthen co-operation in the diamond industry. Masisi said his government has developed a Diamond Beneficiation strategy to allow citizens to participate in the diamond value chain.
“Amongst other things, this strategy will equip citizens with the appropriate industry skills, general management and leadership skills as well as to incubate citizen businesses,” said Masisi.
Botswana is one of the African countries leading in diamond mining. The second-largest diamond in history was discovered in Botswana. The 1,758-carat diamond, larger than a tennis ball, weighs close to 352 grams (12.42 ounces). Masisi said these minerals should be directed to empowering and uplifting the citizens of Botswana. He said the country will also look into moving further up the “pipeline to manufacturing and retail”.
“Participation at these upmarket levels of the pipeline, however small, will go a long way in promoting the development of Gaborone as a Diamond City, and Botswana as the number one diamond destination,” said Masisi.
President Masisi is also pushing for the industry to create more jobs and is “dead determined” that more diamonds be cut and polished in the country. He also stressed that the communities in which the mining activities take place must be placed in a position to benefit from the diamonds.
“We have an obligation to motivate favourable development policies and robust business practices which accommodate the interests of these communities in the whole scheme of diamond mining and production,” said Masisi.
The conference was attended by ministers, senior government representatives and business leaders from around the world, among others.