In order to do that successfully, significant and continued investment will be required across Botswana’s diamond pipeline and, in many areas, this is already in evidence.
Already the world’s richest diamond mine, infrastructure construction began in 2009 to expand Jwaneng Mine. The project, Cut-8, is one of the largest ever investments by the Partnership.
Estimated to provide access to approximately 105 million carats of mainly high quality diamonds from approximately 89 million tonnes mined, Cut-8 is a crucial project for long-term global diamond supply, which is forecast to decline after 2020.43 It is also a crucial project for Botswana’s economy and for job creation. Cut-8 is expected to contribute directly more than US$28 billion (in 2014 prices) to Botswana’s economy and generate more than 1,000 jobs44 during the operational phase (2017-2029) when diamonds are extracted from the ground.
Based on these projections, PwC estimates that the project is expected to generate an additional contribution of US$3 billion (in 2014 prices) over the same period due to expenditure by suppliers and employees. Therefore, the total contribution of Cut-8 to Botswana’s economy during the operational phase is estimated to be more than US$31 billion (in 2014 prices). For every person employed directly on the project, at least three jobs are estimated to be supported elsewhere in Botswana’s economy. In total, Cut-8 is projected to support more than 4,500 jobs per year during the operational phase, either directly or indirectly.
As Jwaneng continues to expand, the Partnership is also looking at expansion options for the Orapa Mine, which has the potential to deliver further socio-economic benefits to the country.
While diamonds are a finite resource, Botswana remains one of the most prospective countries in the world for diamond exploration. The Partnership currently has three exploration projects under way in the country. Even at the early stages of exploration, these projects benefit the areas in which they are based, often by improving infrastructure and employing Batswana and suppliers. As investment upstream will help unlock the potential value of Botswana’s diamonds, investment further downstream is essential to realise and preserve the value.
Almost all of Botswana’s diamonds end up as jewellery, so increasing consumer demand for diamonds is the foundation of the Partnership’s future success. More must be done to stimulate demand in both developed and emerging markets, especially given the increasing competition from other luxury products.
Allied to this is safeguarding the integrity of diamonds. The Partnership has already pioneered detection technology for synthetics and, with the pace of change becoming ever quicker, this must be maintained to uphold consumer confidence and protect Botswana’s natural resource.
The move by De Beers of DBGSS to Gaborone in 2013 firmly established Botswana as one of the world’s major diamond centres, acting as a catalyst to stimulate other parts of the economy. The challenge facing the country now, however, is how to generate greater value from the move.
Although around a quarter of De Beers’ Sightholders have beneficiation factories in Botswana, the challenges in the diamond industry’s midstream sector during 2015 have caused some to close their operations in Botswana.
While it is clear that there is not a single solution to this issue, it is incumbent upon all stakeholders to work together to help deliver sustainable solutions that will ensure the long-term viability of these operations.
It is also important that focus is maintained on training and skills development in all areas of the diamond value chain so that Batswana can continue to occupy positions at all levels. As this analysis shows, the Partnership has long been committed to providing training and skills, but this must be maintained if Botswana is to develop capabilities that enable it to compete more effectively in the global market.
Diamond sorting at DTC Botswana.
The Partnership has played an important role in funding social and economic progress by securing and realising high value from Botswana’s natural resource. The challenge that Botswana now faces is to build on a base of wise development to create new areas of competitiveness and employment, while eventually moving to a post-diamond era.
With the non-mining sector now making up 70 per cent of the total value added to GDP, compared with less than 50 per cent in 2002,45 progress is being made. It is nevertheless clear that Botswana’s economy remains heavily dependent on the diamond sector and on mining in particular, which is not labour intensive.
This creates a problem when demand for rough diamonds falls, as Botswana’s economic fortunes are so closely entwined with diamond revenue. While prudent Government action in the last 50 years has mitigated this impact to some extent, a more balanced economy would insulate it.
The Partnership can play a part in helping Botswana achieve greater economic diversity, but it cannot do so alone. Arguably, its first responsibility is to continue to maximise the value of every Botswana diamond yet to be mined. This will provide the fiscal base to support further developmental investment, improve health and education, provide social safety nets and, importantly, support new, more sustainable sectors. As this analysis notes, the service sector was spurred by the relocation of DBGSS, and a number of small businesses have flourished as a result.
In addition, the Partnership must maintain its involvement with enterprise development. Tokafala is a good example. The three-year partnership between the Government, Debswana, De Beers and Anglo American is intended to foster the growth of commercially viable SMMEs in Botswana.
The Partnership provides a model of how public and private interests can work together for the long term. Central to this is an aligned vision, namely a deep appreciation of diamonds as a finite, luxury product, and a long-term approach to creating value from one of nature’s treasures. The Partners will need to retain this long-term vision in order to deliver the next 50 years of development.
43 Goodman, S., Bratt, M., & Brantberg, L. (2014). Perspectives on the Diamond Industry. Mckinsey and Company, Print.
44 Cut-8 is projected to employ several part-time employees. The hours worked by the part-time employees has been used to convert the number of part-time jobs into the equivalent number of full-time jobs.
45 Jefferis, K., et al (2013).