Windhoek-Meaningful skills transfer is the key to developing future leadership in Namibia’s diamond cutting and polishing industry.
While the Minister of Mines and Energy, Obeth Kandjoze, has commended the industry on the skills transfer initiatives undertaken so far, he called for more effort to be put into transferring skills to Namibians that will allow them not just to become managers within factories, but to eventually own their own diamond businesses.
Speaking at this week’s 10th anniversary of local diamond cutting and polishing factory, Almod Diamonds, Kandjoze called on all local diamond factories, known as Sightholders, to process as much of the rough diamond supply as possible that is purchased from the Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) for the purposes of local value addition and downstream beneficiation.
“Only through manufacturing more of the rough diamonds supplied by NDTC in the country, will Sightholders be able to unlock and take advantage of opportunities presented by the new agreement (between government and De Beers) and by doing so further strengthen their operations in a way that continues to build on achievements made thus far,” Kandjoze said.
He added that when Almod Diamonds first opened its doors in the country 10 years ago, it was and remains government’s intention to promote a sustainable downstream diamond beneficiation industry, while at the same time creating employment opportunities for Namibians, promoting skills development and marketing Namibian diamonds locally and internationally.
Ten years ago government, in partnership with De Beers Group, signed a partnership sales agreement that paved the way for meaningful downstream beneficiation to take effect. NDTC was the vehicle established at the time to be the catalyst and enabler of local downstream diamond beneficiation.
The two parties renewed the Diamond Sorting, Valuing, Sales and Marketing Agreement in May 2016 with one of the key outcomes being the increase of the Local Offer Threshold to a price indexed annual amount of US$430 million. In addition to the increased Local Offer Threshold, NDTC additionally is now offering rough diamonds of 10.8 carats and larger to local factories.
“It is the Namibian government’s expectation that the opportunities presented by the new agreement have the potential of making a significant and positive impact on the growth and long-term sustainability of the Namibian cutting and polishing industry in general,” said Kandjoze.
He added that as a result of the new agreement, government would like to see increased employment and skills transfer opportunities, investment in latest technology and infrastructure aimed at further enhancing the competitiveness of the industry and last, but not least, meaningful empowerment and integration of Namibian citizens in all aspects of the diamond value chain.