Windhoek-Chief Executive Officer of Namib Desert Diamonds (NAMDIA), Kennedy Hamutenya, has rubbished allegations that the newly established company sold Namibian diamonds below market value.
NAMDIA was established in 2016 to trade Namibian rough diamonds directly in the international markets without using middlemen and not through De Beers, as is the case with the rest of the 85 percent of the diamonds marketed and sold through them.
“These allegations are nothing but lies. This was nothing else than reaching by some detractors whose agendas are best known to them. There is no truth in those allegations. It must be made clear that there is no homogenous price for diamonds,” said Hamutenya in an exclusive interview with New Era.
Hamutenya explained that diamonds are valued based on the four “Cs” of each diamond, namely the carat weight (size); clarity (quality), cut (shape of the diamond) and colour. He emphasised that based on these characteristics each stone is unique. This means that it is crucial for each individual stone to be valued according to these criteria, which stands to reason that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all price for diamonds. One common indicator though is the average price per carat, which is calculated by dividing the sum of the prices of all individual diamonds by the total carat weight.
“The people making these allegations know nothing about the science of selling diamonds. Let me reiterate once again that we never sold a single stone in Dubai. Prior to operating from our new building, we sold every single stone in the Namdeb Centre. We sold all the stones above and beyond De Beers selling price. We have answered this lie exhaustively and I hope that we can now put it to its final resting place. There is no way we will damage our brand by lowering the value of such beautiful diamonds. There is no way we shall ever do that. We want to do the opposite – squeeze as much margin out of the stone as possible. Without killing our client, of course,” stressed Hamutenya.
Hamutenya, who was former Diamond Commissioner in the Ministry of Mines and Energy, added that legitimate diamantaires are proud of what Namibia has done in creating NAMDIA.
“Some of our neighbours envy us. Namibia is a model for good diamond governance throughout the world. Last year, Namibia was peer reviewed by the KPCS (Kimberley Process Certification Scheme) and we passed with flying colours. It is then, not surprising that Namibia was requested to consider chairing the KPCS as we did in 2008, at the KPCS Plenary meeting in Australia in November last year. This is because we are considered a model for good governance and transparency,” Hamutenya stated.
“We have been concerned about the negative publicity we received last year, most of which was based on hearsay and, therefore, unfounded and unsubstantiated information. We have resolved, going forward, to be more transparent and to educate and inform all our stakeholders about what we are doing. We respect the role that the media plays as the fourth estate of good democratic governance and trust that they will view NAMDIA as the most authoritative source of information on all things NAMDIA,” he continued.
According to Hamutenya, NAMDIA can play a significant role in entrenching Namibia’s economic independence. NAMDIA was established in line with the signing of a marketing and sales agreement by the government and the De Beers Group, concluding negotiations, which dated back to 2014.
Hamutenya further noted that NAMDIA’s key objective is to serve as a price discovery mechanism for government. This, he said, essentially means that although there is a real appetite for the highest gem quality diamonds Namibia offers, there is a real need to find out what the discerning markets are really willing to offer and are offering for these disproportionally high quality stones, which for the most part have hitherto been sold only in mixed parcels, which means that they are mixed with low quality stones from other producing countries and, therefore, in effect subsidising the diamond industries of those other countries.
“Therefore, NAMDIA participates directly in the diamond value chain by trading and distributing its allocation (which it buys) of Namibian rough diamonds to discerning international markets, obtaining attractive margins in the process,” said Hamutenya.