Gaborone — The partnership between Botswana and diamond consortium, De Beers Group, is one of the most exemplary business collaborations between a government and a private company, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has said.
President Masisi said this when welcoming De Beers Group chief executive officer (CEO), Mr Al Cook and De Beers Botswana Resident director, Mr Neo Moroka who had paid a courtesy call on him on Monday.
"There are few state-business partnerships that define providence like this one between Botswana and De Beers," the President said.
He noted that the two parties had been in partnership since diamonds were discovered in Botswana in the immediate aftermath of independence, contributing to the country's development trajectory, adding many countries had inquired with interest about the nature of the collaboration.
Nonetheless, President Masisi said it had been an anomaly that the diamond mining business partnership had largely been skewed in favour of De Beers for decades, something he said was changed by the new agreement signed earlier this year.
He said he had pushed the Botswana negotiating team to ensure a better deal for the country and thanked De Beers for yielding after tough negotiations between the two parties.
"This new agreement would lead to Botswana becoming a bigger player in the diamond trade, greater economic benefit for the country, and through the Diamond Fund created, which will see De Beers contributing P1 billion per year into the state account, would ensure Botswana is able to ensure savings and future investment," he said.
That, he said redefined the relationship between state and company, further making the Botswana and De Beers partnership a global model many were eager to learn from.
Furthermore, President Masisi said he believed that through the negotiations, Botswana pushed De Beers to be a better company and by yielding to some of the conditions, they had proved to be an evolving company.
For his part, Mr Cook admitted that the negotiations had been 'tough' but had at all times taken place in an atmosphere of respect.
He said the Botswana negotiating team was clear that government wanted a transformative agreement, and the two parties arrived at a mutually beneficial solution.
Mr Cook said they acknowledged that the world had changed since the 1960s and the new agreement put Botswana at the centre of diamond trade.