Botswana: Diamond Benefits Immense - President Khama

press release

Botswana government recognises the immeasurable benefits diamonds bring to the country and takes every decision relating to diamonds and their policy in the most considered manner. President Lt Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama said this was a manner, which attempted to balance the needs of international business and the imperatives of building a vibrant economy of a developing country. The President was officiating at the launch of Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) on Tuesday (September 17).

Botswana government recognises the immeasurable benefits diamonds bring to the country and takes every decision relating to diamonds and their policy in the most considered manner.

President Lt Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama said this was a manner, which attempted to balance the needs of international business and the imperatives of building a vibrant economy of a developing country.

The President was officiating at the launch of Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) on Tuesday (September 17).

"We believe the time has come for Botswana to play a more meaningful role in the international diamond sector. We will strive to set standards which are amongst the best in the world in order to earn our rightful place as a leading world diamond centre," he said.

Okavango Diamond Company's creation, President Khama said, represented the missing piece in the puzzle in creating a fully-fledged diamond centre in the country.

He noted that the trading activities of ODC and the Diamond Trading Company created a platform for rough and hopefully polished trading to take place. The company, he said, would offer Botswana the opportunity to host large numbers of international diamond buyers over a period of 10 days in every five week business cycle.

He also noted that ODC was at the forefront of rough diamond trading, employing some of the most advanced technology and business practices to sell its diamonds. President Khama commended ODC for choosing to use online auctions to sell its diamonds, saying this was a reflection of the open and transparent manner it had elected to do business.

Furthermore, he said government's vision entailed a flourishing diamond mining sector with the country continuing to build on its reputation as one of the most favourable mining destinations in the world.

The other vision, President Khama said, was to witness a multitude of global diamond buying and selling businesses arriving in the country to trade this special product and to develop a vibrant diamond manufacturing community, employing skilled and respected artisans and producing some of the finest cut gems in the world.

"It is also the pride in knowing that around the world Botswana's diamonds are being offered as special gifts sourced from a country, where those very stones have built schools, hospitals, roads, provided jobs, and continue to catalyse this country's development," he added.

Okavango Diamond Company's establishment, President Khama said would allow the country to share its best to the many international business men and women who would arrive in Botswana to buy rough diamonds.

In his welcome remarks, ODC chairman, Mr Jacob Thamage, said ODC was Botswana's own rough diamond sales channel that provided a new route to market the country's diamonds delivered through an open and competitive sales channel.

As a diamond company competing in the global market, Mr Thamage said ODC needed to build trust with its customers and drive efficiencies across the business.

These two guiding imperatives, he said, did not only influence the choice of the sales model, but also underpinned all aspects of the company's operations.

"It is for these reasons that ODC had a lean and integrated operating structure with an experienced and multi-skilled workforce of just 20. The company employs a rich blend of local and international skills and this positions the company well to service a broad customer base here in Botswana," he said.

He further said the company had invested in the latest technology and systems, often in partnership with leaders in their field. These systems, he said would help ODC manage their costs down, support good governance, establish an audit trail and above all enhance customer experience.

Okavango Diamond Company was established in 2012, as a rough diamond distribution company that is wholly owned by the Government of Botswana, to market a portion of Debswana's rough diamond production.

Under the contractual agreements governing the sale of Debswana's diamonds, ODC is entitled to purchase and sell 12 per cent of Debswana's total production in 2013, rising to 15 per cent by 2016.

The company's sales are expected to be in excess of US$ 400 million (more than P3 billion) each year, making it a scale supplier of rough diamonds to the industry and the largest source of uniquely Botswana diamonds in the market.

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