20 March 2019

Namibia: 78 Bid for Namdia Diamonds

NAMDIA has received 78 applications from potential diamond buyers around the world, mines minister Tom Alweendo announced last week.

Alweendo said this in the National Assembly in response to questions from RDP member Mike Kavekotora.The applications came after Alweendo forced Namdia to publicly advertise the sale of diamonds worth an estimated N$2 billion a year.

The minister did not disclose the names of the applicants, or whether the buyers will be made public after the final selection. He, however, said the response from the market was a sign that international companies are willing to pay a premium for Namibian diamonds.

Alweendo said potential clients of Namdia described Namibia as an attractive country centred on good governance, with beautiful diamonds that fuel socio-economic development.

"Namdia is in the process of selecting new clients, a number of whom have committed that they will promote the Namibian brand further downstream," Alweendo said in parliament.

He added that this will help to increase the margins for Namibian gems.

Namdia's requirements for eligible diamond buyers include having a reliable business reputation, financial stability, experience in the trade of natural rough diamonds, subscription to the Kimberley Process, and having enough money to pay for the diamonds.

Last year, Namdia said 10 companies might be selected to buy the gems from the state entity over two years.

The Namibian has since 2016 reported how the state-owned company has been selling diamonds to companies in transactions clouded in secrecy.

The company sold diamonds to five out of 20 companies selected by the government in 2016.

International gems firm De Beers also sells Namibian stones under its 'Forever' brand in its De Beers stores around the world, however nowhere in those stores is the name Namibia mentioned.

"De Beers uses Namibian stones to promote its brand, but Namibia gets little or no mention," Alweendo stressed.

Namdia is subject to an external audit by a public auditor registered with the public accountants and auditors board, as it was established under the Companies Act.

An audit report from the external auditors forms part of the annual financial statements.

"Namdia received an unqualified audit opinion, and it complied with the requirements of the Companies Act and the international financial reporting standards by producing audited financial statements within the prescribed six months of its financial year's ends for two consecutive years since inception," Alweendo explained.

Kavekotora told The Namibian last week that he had asked the minister whether the creation of Namdia benefits the country.

He said Namdia's latest annual report said that they made an income of N$1,9 billion, while expenses were N$1,7 billion. Thus, the profit margin is low.

"We know that in most cases in Namibia, profit has been created not for economic reasons, but for political reasons," Kavekotora added.

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