A multi-stakeholder steering committee in Botswana began work last week to assist De Beers in the relocation of its Diamond Trading Company (DTC) activities from London to Gaborone, reports Mmegi Online.
As part of their 2011 sales and marketing agreement, De Beers and the government of Botswana agreed to relocate the DTC's rough diamond aggregation, sales and marketing activities to Gaborone by the end of 2013. For its part, the Botswana government has been tasked with creating local infrastructure in Gaborone that will be conducive to the DTC operations and that will transform the city into a competitive international diamond center, according to the news source.
The steering committee is to facilitate the interdependent factors associated with the DTC relocation before, during and after the transfer of the business, estimated to be worth US$6 billion-(P45 billion) a year, notes Mmegi Online. These factors include security, transport, hospitality and communications, among others.
The committee's first meeting was to tackle the terms of reference for each member and determine how often they will meet and how they can best aid De Beers in making the transition "as smooth as possible," Diamond Hub Coordinator Jacob Thamage said in an interview with the news source.
Some of the key stakeholders in the committee include officials from Botswana's ministries of finance, transport and communication, science and technology, office of the president, foreign affairs, BOCCIM (Botswana's Business Association of Employers, which represents employers in all sectors of the economy in an advocacy capacity), as well as private sector players.
Apart from the DTC operations and its London staff of 86, which are expected to transfer to Botswana by the end of next year, the Botswana government is also responsible for creating a suitable business environment for the international sightholders who will come to Gaborone at least ten times a year to buy their rough diamonds.
Some current challenges facing the government-backed steering committee in its task of facilitating the development of a world-class diamond center are issues of security, slow internet connection, and a lack of direct flights to Botswana from major international diamond markets, reports Mmegi Online.
Although the marketing agreement stipulates that the process of relocation should be completed by the end of 2013, according to Thamage, the transfer is ahead of schedule and the aggregation process is expected to move to Gaborone already by October of this year. A 40-person staff is currently being trained to do aggregation work, the news source reports.
"At least 27 DTC workers will migrate to Gaborone in the next few months while the rest will come down next year," DTC Chief Executive Officer Varda Shine verified in an interview.
As such, by October, in addition to the Debswana production, diamonds from De Beers mines in Namibia, South Africa and Canada will come to Gaborone for aggregation before being exported to London for the sights, Mmegi Online writes.