3 May 2007

Africa: Diamond Lobby Talks of Beneficiation

Johannesburg — A NEWLY formed African Diamond Producers Association (Adpa) gathered in Luanda this week in what some of its members described as an attempt to establish a policy that should support beneficiation across Africa.

Having watched closely the implementation of so-called local beneficiation in southern Africa, other diamond-producing countries in Africa are calling on their counterparts to help achieve the same.

As many as 12 African diamond-producing countries have formed an association headquartered in Luanda to strengthen influence on the world diamond market.

Adpa includes Angola, Botswana, Ghana, Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Sierra- Leone, Tanzania, Togo, the Central African Republic and SA.

Adpa made headlines last week when the Congo's Deputy Mines Minister, Victor Kasongo, was quoted as saying the organisation aimed to establish an Opec-style diamond cartel.

Kasongo has subsequently said his comments were taken out of context.

Speaking in a telephone interview from Kinshasa, Kasongo said: "It is nothing like an Opec-style organisation. It's an African initiative trying to ensure that there is a value addition to our resources with the support from our members in southern Africa.

"We have to amend our laws to enable the governments to realise this. Beneficiation is the key priority," he said.

South African government officials have also emphasised beneficiation as a common goal for Adpa. Recently, the governments of SA, Botswana and Namibia geared their policies towards beneficiation by insisting on local cutting and polishing as well as jewellery manufacturing to generate more employment in the diamond sector.

A government source in SA said Adpa would work only if the organisation's members worked together on cutting and polishing, jewellery production and training of people.

In Botswana, the main focus appears to be on driving the Kimberley Process, aimed at curbing the trade of diamonds used to finance wars.

On Monday, Adpa issued a statement saying the organisation's goal "is to introduce effective strategies and policies that are aimed at devolving sovereignty and recovering lost revenue for each of its member states".

It also said it would work together with the Kimberley Process.

The Congo's André Action Diakité Jackson has been made chairman of Adpa. Its interim executive secretariat is Edgar Diogo de Carvalho Santos, the former secretary-general of Angola's ministry of geology and mines.

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