As I joined Minister Kandjoze yesterday in signing a new 10-year agreement for the sorting, valuing and sales of Namdeb Holdings’ diamonds, the significance of the event was not lost on me.
This is the longest agreement ever made between De Beers and the government, and the best example yet of the strength of our unique partnership. It ensures that Namdeb Holdings’ diamonds will continue to form a significant part of the long-term supply made available by De Beers to the world’s leading diamantaires.
And with Namibian diamonds renowned for being of a high quality and favourable shape, it means that production from Namibia will complement that from other producer countries, benefiting our customers.
Namibia is one of the world’s leading diamond producers, with Namdeb Holdings’ diamonds accounting for around US$1 billion of the supply sold by De Beers each year.
It is the strong fundamentals of the long and successful relationship between De Beers and Namibia that has led to shared achievements and mutual benefits.
Your country’s leaders continue to be forward-thinkers with their approach to its diamond sector, making sure that diamonds contribute to socio-economic development and underpin the long-term prosperity of the country. Goals that we too at De Beers also share.
Since we began this journey together just four years after Namibia gained independence, the country’s GDP per capita has grown around 4.5 per cent each year, on average, up to 2015. This can be attributed largely to diamonds, supported by strong governance, a solid Government and a sensible approach to investment.
There are many reasons for Namibians to feel proud of this partnership. It contributes more than N$3 billion each year to the country’s revenues, more than one in every five dollars to foreign earnings and, besides the Government itself, is the single largest contributor to the country’s economy.
The new agreement paves the way for the creation of an independent sales outlet that will distribute up to 15 per cent of Namdeb Holdings’ run-of-mine production each year.
Importantly, it also bolsters socio-economic development, with US$430 million of rough diamonds being offered annually to Namibia Diamond Trading Company customers. This will support local diamond businesses as more rough diamonds are cut and polished in-country. In addition, all Special Stones mined by Namdeb Holdings will be made available for sale here in Namibia.
However, you only need to look beyond the particulars of the agreement to see the significance the De Beers/Namibia partnership continues to have.
It employs more than 2,500 people and a large number of contractors, helps build houses in local communities, promotes health care and supports local businesses and schools, all of which reinforce the socio-economic development of the country.
It is also investing around N$2.5 billion in a new state-of-the-art exploration vessel, the SS Nujoma, which will begin its search for diamonds across Namibian waters from the first half of next year.
And the Partnership is helping to find the next generation of Namibian talent through a N$10 million donation to the University of Namibia. Supporting underprivileged children with their studies goes hand-in-hand with the school-based learning programmes we sponsor, which have benefited more than 300 young Namibians.
With this new sales agreement and the shared vision of our partnership, we will ensure that the socio-economic development of the country goes from strength to strength and that Namibia’s beautiful diamonds sparkle for years to come.