Botswana once again finds itself at a crossroads. The sparsely populated, landlocked country is in a constant battle to ensure the longevity of its diamond industry.
Recognizing that diamond mining will not last forever, the government’s beneficiation program has sought to establish cutting and polishing, trading, and auxiliary services in an effort to diversify its industry — and economy — away from its reliance on the mining sector.
De Beers, which counts around 59% of its production by value in Botswana, has played no small part in that effort. It did so initially by earmarking a part of its rough supply to be manufactured in Botswana, and today there are 18 sightholders with factories in the country. In 2013, De Beers moved its sales headquarters to Gaborone, meaning that its 10 annual sights were taken out of London, thus diverting traffic and diamond-related activity to the African city.
Furthermore, the establishment of the parastatal Okavango Diamond Company that same year gave the government access to 15% of production by Debswana, its joint mining venture with De Beers. That was the first time substantial rough sales from Debswana took place outside of the De Beers system.
The 2011 agreement that governed those developments is up for renewal in 2020, and negotiations are expected to begin in the coming year. For its part, the government is seeking to increase supply to local sightholders as a means of creating more jobs, newly elected President Mokgweetsi Masisi told Bloomberg in May.