Diamond industry needs new model- Alweendo

By Hilary Mare

NAMIBIA and Botswana must be pioneers to drive a new dawn for a better and balanced share of the benefits that are derived from the diamonds that are mined in the two countries, Mines and Energy Minister, Tom Alweendo has said.

Addressing delegates at the Botswana diamond conference held in Gaborone last week, Alweendo highlighted that both the communities and governments must be total partners in this new dawn – including becoming budding marketeers of diamonds, and telling the story to consumers around the world about the good that diamonds do.

“The conventional model where corporations pay for advertisements is no longer sufficient. Our people - employees and communities - may be better marketeers than the conventional model. However, that will also only materialize when they feel and believe that they too have a stake in the benefits being derived.

“Similarly, as Governments we can no longer just rely on the rankings and ratings of how investor-friendly we are. We too must constantly ask ourselves questions such as: Are we doing enough to account to our electorate with the mandate they’ve entrusted us? What else do we need to do not only to attract investors but even more importantly to retain such investment?

“I believe that a new model must emerge. One that truly seeks to find an inspired partnership that shares the benefits accruing from diamonds on an equitable basis – for the benefit of our people, the sustainability of the industry and enhancing the diamond purchasing experiences for consumers globally,” Alweendo said.

He went on to say that those who sell diamonds to consumers must also continue to ask questions such as: Are we doing enough to convince consumers that buying our diamonds enhances their lives for the better?

“What is that we are doing to enhance the image and reputation of the diamond industry in the countries we are operating in? What do we need to do more of in order to solidify our partnerships with the diamond producing countries where we operate and to ensure that we are being seen as an integral part of the communities we operate in?” further asked Alweendo.

The Minister further expressed that the reality of the new world order demands all industry players to have greater self-introspection.

“Governments, mining companies and all players in the diamond industry must seek to continuously do better – if we are to move forward into this new dawn.”

Highlighting some of the challenges that are faced by the diamond industry, Alweendo mentioned, mines are getting older and more and more expensive to extract from and the emergence of Lab Grown Diamonds presents a peculiar challenge that must be taken lightly at own peril.

“As we all know, the only true source of value for our diamonds, remain the consumers’ desire for our diamonds. The consumer is becoming increasingly sophisticated and demands greater evidence that our diamonds do not harm the environment or the people who work on our mines. Shareholders are demanding greater returns on their capital, our employees are demanding greater remuneration perks and our communities are demanding more direct tangible benefits from our mining operations,” further elaborated the Minister.

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