Maputo — Mozambique is negotiating the possibility of cooperating with Russia in prospecting for diamonds.
To this end, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi met on Wednesday night with Sergei Ivanov, the chairperson of Alrosa, the world's largest diamond mining company, in the Black Sea town of Sochi, where he is attending the Russia-Africa summit.
Speaking to the Mozambican reporters accompanying Nyusi at the end of the meeting, Ivanov said he had suggested focusing on areas near the border with Zimbabwe, but Nyusi "advised us to go beyond these areas".
"Our team will travel to Mozambique later this year, and our geologists will discuss with the Ministry of Mineral Resources possible areas of cooperation", said Ivanov. "We are sure that Mozambique could turn out to be rich in diamonds, and these diamonds can be sold and bring benefits to the population of Mozambique".
The occurrence of diamonds in the southern province of Gaza has already been confirmed, and the government is now working to formalise Mozambique's membership of the Kimberley Process, which would allow it to export diamonds. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme is designed to avoid "conflict diamonds" (or "blood diamonds") from entering legitimate trading channels.
Ivanov promised the Russia will assist the Mozambican application for membership. "The Russian Federation will chair the Kimberley process next year, and we will be ready to help Mozambique become a member", he said.
Alrosa is responsible for 27 per cent of the world diamond market. The company, which s controlled by the Russian state, is worth about seven billion US dollars and employs 40,000 workers.
Nyusi also visited some of the exhibitions on display at the Sochi Olympic Park, where the summit is being held, notably the stand of the company Kamaz, which specialises in making heavy vehicles and military equipment.
At the formal opening of the summit on Wednesday, the host, Russian President Vladimir Putin, hoped that the trade between Africa and Russia, currently running at about 20 billion dollars a year, will double over the next three years.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the current chairperson of the African Union, who is co-chairing the summit, praised Russia's efforts to expand its cooperation with the African continent.
But he also warned of the need for Africa to invest in building the facilities that will guarantee the full functioning of the African Continental Free Trade Area, and hoped that Russia would support this.