Botswana is aiming to break away from its partnership with De Beers, the world’s leading diamond supplier, by investing in Belgian gem trader HB Antwerp.
The country’s president Masisi announced a 24 percent stake in the the European gemstone business, which could mean major changes for Botswana’s diamond industry. At present, 75 percent of diamonds produced by the joint venture Debswana are sold to De Beers, with only 25 percent going to its own Okavango Diamond Company.The move has raised questions about the future of De Beers’ mining rights in Botswana and their diamond sales agreement which ends in June 2021. Currently, diamonds account for over 30 percent of Botswana’s gross domestic product (GDP).
De Beers has been criticized by labor activists for its unethical practices such as offering low wages and paying workers with low-grade diamonds they cannot sell on the market. President Masisi’s decision may have political implications ahead of the 2024 elections.
Meanwhile, former President Khama claims he made a mistake appointing Masisi as his successor due to “poor choices” being made concerning the nation-state’s diamond dealings.
In short, this new deal is likely to have far-reaching effects on both Botswana’s economy and its international diamond operations.