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Botswana rejects G7 demands on diamonds certification

Bame Piet

Government has rejected demands from the world’s superpowers for Botswana to change the way she deals with her diamonds.

Delegates from United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, United States of America, and European Union were in BW last week calling for transparency on diamonds.

The so called ‘G7’ nations are looking to tighten up sanctions on Russia, and want assurances that Russian diamonds are not being sold through other channels.

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They are currently holding meetings with diamond-producing countries on their processes, while also pushing for certification to be done in Antwerp, Belgium.

However, Voice Money has learnt the talks proved tense.

Govt reportedly feel such a move would sabotage the Kimberly Process, a multilateral trade regime established in 2003, with its Secretariat resident in Botswana.

Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Lefoko Moagi, who led the Botswana team, was in no mood to mince his words when responding to a questionnaire from Voice Money.

“This will undermine the Kimberly Certification Process Scheme (KCPS) and has consequences of delayed processing of diamonds and cost implications if goods are to go to Antwerp rather than certify from producer countries like Botswana. Given the importance of diamonds to our economy, this will be an assault on democracy and indeed our sovereignty and it is not a trade issue,” was Moagi’s strong message.

The Minister said Botswana’s diamond processing industry is transparent and has no loopholes for any smuggled diamonds to pollute the system.

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“We have shown them our processes from Mine to Finger, so as to assure them how we have been tracking and tracing our diamonds. We expect that they will go back and reconsider this single node from Antwerp as we have made it abundantly clear that we are opposed to it,” he said.

Minister Moagi added there will be another round of progress meetings once the delegation members have reported back to their principals.

Meanwhile, there was a slight increase in diamond sales in the final quarter of Q4 of 2023.

DeBeers CEO, Al Cook confirmed US$130 million-worth of sales during the period and that the company continues to offer lower levels of supply in line with demand.

“As the end-of-year holiday season progresses, we are seeing signs that the diamond industry is regaining its balance between wholesale supply and demand. Polished diamond prices look to have stabilized as inventory levels have decreased, though we expect improvements in rough diamond trading conditions to be gradual,” he said on the DeBeers X handle in December.

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In total, the company raked in US$3.63 billion in diamond sales last year, way less than the US$5.67 billion made in 2022.

Last week’s press statement from DeBeers revealed Al Cook recently visited Botswana and had first hand information on the positive impact of natural diamonds in the lives of Batswana in the form of education, philanthropy, healthcare and GDP.

During the trip, Signet CEO, Gina Drosos and her team visited the world’s most valuable diamond mine, Jwaneng, including its hospital which supports the local community.

They also toured Signet’s dedicated diamond polishing factory, which employs 201 people, of whom more than 88 percent are Botswana citizens, and 63 percent are women.

“Signet is a purpose oriented company and it is so rewarding to see first-hand how the diamonds we source, polish and sell are helping to grow and shape the future of nations such as Botswana,” declared Drosos.