Over $3 billion (P25 billion) worth of diamonds have been aggregated in Gaborone and distributed to three countries since the relocation of the exercise from London in August last year, Mmegi reported.
The aggregation cycles, which involves blending of categories of rough diamonds like-for-like regardless of their country of origin, then splitting them into appropriate types and quantities to be sold to clients, is the first phase of De Beers’ relocation of its diamond sales business to Botswana, the report said. “We have had seven aggregation activities since August last year and the process has gone smoothly. Over $3 billion worth of diamonds have been aggregated and distributed,” said De Beers’ executive vice president, global sightholder sales, Varda Shine in Gaborone this week.
The relocation of aggregation, marked the delivery of the first phase of the migration of De Beers sorting, sales and marketing business to Botswana, said the Mmegi report. It will see P45 billion ($6 billion) worth of diamonds now passing through Botswana. Part of the diamonds will be sent to the UK for distribution to the 66 London sightholders and two Canadian sightholders and to Johannesburg for the 10 South African sightholders and Windhoek, for the 13 DTC Namibia sightholders. The remainder will stay in Gaborone for DTC Botswana’s 25 sightholders, it said.
In a 2011 agreement, De Beers and the Botswana government agreed to relocate DTC International’s aggregation, sales and marketing activities to Gaborone. This is part of ambitious plans to transform Gaborone into a diamond centre in the mould of cities like Mumbai, Antwerp and Tel Aviv, said the report.
“We have 71 staff doing aggregation, 37 of which are citizens but we are expecting about 50 more expatriates to migrate to Botswana by October this year. We are also going to advertise about 60 more jobs locally,” Shine said, according to Mmegi.
Both De Beers Global Sightholder Sales (formerly known as DTC’s International) and DTC Botswana will now operate from the P471 million DTC Botswana building in Gaborone, which has a capacity to process 45 million carats of diamonds. Until now, it has processed less than half of that amount because only Debswana production has been sorted at the building and then shipped to London, the report said.
The DTC Botswana building is currently under expansion at a cost of P170 million to accommodate De Beers’ relocation. Shine said that at least 40 percent of the 180 staff to be employed under De Beers Global Sightholder Sales will be citizens.
By the end of the relocation process this year, approximately 90 London-based De Beers employees will have shifted to Gaborone with their families. At the same time, hundreds of diamantaires are expected to travel to Botswana every five weeks to buy diamonds.The final group to relocate will be the sales team – as well as Shine, the Mmegi report said.
They will be on location when the ‘London sight’ is launched in Gaborone in the fourth quarter of the year.”We are quite confident that by the fourth quarter, international buyers will be in Gaborone to purchase diamonds. We have also had tremendous support from government. Our international buyers such as the 45 Indian sightholders will all have one year multiple entry visas. This will make their travelling arrangements much easier,” she explained.
Although the relocation has been largely smooth, Shine lamented the loss of skilled manpower that De Beers is currently experiencing as some of their staff declined to move to Gaborone. Between 60-70 De Beers employees in London will be made redundant by the relocation, the report said.