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Africa diamond-producing countries receive US$8.1b from 2018 global sales



Diamond-producing countries in Africa, including Botswana, in 2018 received a total of US$8.1 billion translating to 9.5 percent of the total global revenue of US$85.9 billion generated from the sale of diamond jewellery.



This was announced by the World Diamond Council (WDC) president, Stephane Fischler ahead of the 2019 Kimberley Process plenary meeting, which will be held in New Delhi, India next week.

He said although some countries in Africa had considered the amount they received as insufficient, the economic potential of the diamond resource whose value increased by five as it travelled from the mine to the retail jeweler, was indisputable.



"Diamond deposits hold the promise of a better future for all African producing countries, and more specifically for the communities living in areas where they are located," Fischler said.

He added; "To realise this promise, those mining the product need to receive fair value for their labour and capital investment, and an appropriate proportion of revenues generated must be used to create sustainable economic and social opportunities at the grassroots level.

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Fischler said the long-term developmental for the potential of the product to be realised, diamonds must continue to be an aspirational purchase for buyers.

"Because they can live without diamonds, they will only buy them if they want to.  There were 10 million Africans whose income depended on continuing demand for diamond jewellery in consuming countries.  Reputation, therefore, is a key element, and defending that reputation is of paramount importance.

If the integrity of the diamond is undermined, so is the economic potential of the product," he said.

Turning to the 2019 Kimberley Process plenary meeting to be held next week in India, Fischer stressed on the importance of progress being made in strengthening the scope of the Kimberly Process certification scheme, as part of the three-year review and reform cycle that was ending this month.

"More specifically, we are talking about amending the definition of conflict diamonds so that it better enables us to provide an assurance that the trade in rough diamonds cannot fund the types of systemic violence being seen in certain diamond-mining areas today," he said.



The WDC president also announced that the WDC was rolling out a new System of Warranties (SOW), which "has scope that goes significantly beyond that of the Kimberly Process."

"The new system will require members of the industry to include on all invoices and memo documents that they adhere to the WDC guidelines.  The guidelines include reference to international conventions relating to human and labour rights, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering," he said.

Organisers involved in to the build-up to the KP plenary meeting said they were experiencing 'whirlwind days' ahead of the event.

The meeting will start on November 18 and end on November 22.  With a range of critical issues yet to be resolved, delegates to the plenary meeting are currently sharing and promoting last minute positions during bilateral meetings in different parts of the world and strategically scheduled conferences, attended by many of the key players in the diamond industry.  Some of the meetings held to date include the Russia-Africa Summit which took place in Sochi, Russia last month and the diamond conference held in Gaborone early this month.


"The final minutes are on the clock for the Kimberley Process's three-year review and reform cycle, which began in 2016 and will end at the plenary meeting under chairmanship of India.  Some tough discussions will take place, as difficult decisions need to be made – none more so than whether the scope of the Kimberley Process certification scheme will be strengthened," the WDC said in a statement released this week.
"At the heart of the debate is the definition of what constitutes a 'conflict diamond'. 

Currently, it is unchanged from the launch of the Kimberley Process certification scheme in 2003.  This means that only diamonds whose proceeds are fuelling civil war against legitimate Governments are targeted.  Recognising the outdated definition, the WDC, together with the civil society and many Government representatives, are insisting that it should be amended to include instances of unacceptable violence in the supply chain during peacetime as well," WDC said.

Other proposals submitted by Botswana and Russia are on the table.  â€¨â€¨

The Kimberley Process plenary meetings bring together under its umbrella, industry, human rights activists and Governments from both the developed and developing world.  It has succeeded in enforcing tough policies in the past.

"But will it be able to rise to the occasion once again, or will it be hamstrung by the Kimberley Process members' short-term political interests?  While we are active on all committees and subcommittees, when the time comes to vote, only Government members have the right to do so," noted the WDC.



"While we do not have the final say on the future scope of the Kimberley Process certification scheme, we most definitely are able to set responsible industry standards for the goods reaching the market.  This goes beyond the Kimberley Process' currently limited 'conflict diamonds' definition, expressly referencing international conventions relating to human and labour rights 

"The question is whether, after New Delhi, all participants in the tripartite coalition will be travelling together and at the same speed.  One way or another, the 2019 Kimberly Process plenary will represent a watershed moment for the industry," said WDC.

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Gambling Authority tender dangles as a jittery lottery quandary

30th November 2020
SEFALANA MD: CHANDRA CHAUHAN

Lucrative and highly anticipated national lottery tender that saw several Batswana businessmen partnering to form a gambling consortium to pit against their South African counterparts, culminates into a big power gamble.

WeekendPost has had a chance to watch lottery showcase even before the anticipated and impending national lottery set-up launches. A lot has been a big gamble from the bidding process which is now set for the courts next year January following a marathon legal brawl involving the interest of the gambling fraternity in Botswana and South Africa.

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The uncertainty of getting the next meal in Botswana

30th November 2020
uncertainty of getting the next meal

Households representing more than half of Botswana’s population-mostly residing in rural areas- do not know where their next meal will come from, but neither do they take into consideration the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume.

This is according to the latest Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Botswana report which was done for the 2018/19 period and represents the state of food insecurity data even to this time.
The Prevalence of Food Insecurity was released by Statistics Botswana and it released results with findings that the results show that at national level 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018/19, while 22.2 percent of the population was affected by severe food insecurity only.

According to the report, this translates to 27 percent of the population being food secure that is to say having adequate access to food in both quality and quantity. According to Statistician General, Burton Mguni, when explaining how the food data was compiled, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is custodian of the “Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU)” and “Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)” SDG indicators, for leading FIES data analysis and the resultant capacity building.

“The FIES measures the extent of food insecurity at the household or individual level. The indicator provides internationally comparable estimates of the proportion of the population facing moderate to severe difficulties in accessing food. The FIES consists of eight brief questions regarding access to adequate food, and the questions are answered directly with a yes/no response. It (FIES) complements the existing food and nutrition security indicators such as Prevalence of Undernourishment.

According to the FIES, with increasing severity, the quantity of food consumed decreases as portion sizes are reduced and meals are skipped. At its most severe level, people are forced to go without eating for a day or more. The scale further reveals that the household’s experience of food insecurity may be characterized by uncertainty and anxiety regarding food access and compromising the quality of the diet and having a less balanced and more monotonous diet,” says Mguni.

The 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana which was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity are characterized as people experiencing moderate food insecurity and face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food. These people have been forced to compromise on the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume according to the report on food insecurity.

Those who experience severe food insecurity, the 22.2 percent of the population, are people who have typically run out of food and, at worst, gone a day (or days) without eating. According to the statistics, rural area population experienced moderate to severe food insecurity at 65 percent while urban villages were at 46.60 percent and cities/town were at 31.70 percent. Those experiencing the most extreme and severe insecurity were at rural areas making 33.10 percent while urban villages and towns were at 11.90 percent and 17.50 respectively.

According to a paper compiled by Sirak Bahta, Francis Wanyoike, Hikuepi Katjiuongua and Davis Marumo and published in December 2017, titled ‘Characterization of food security and consumption patterns among smallholder livestock farmers in Botswana,’ over 70 percent of Botswana’s population reside in rural areas, and majority (70%) relies on traditional/subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

The study set out to characterize the food security situation and food consumption patterns among livestock keepers in Botswana. “Despite the policy change, challenges still remain in ensuring that all persons and households have access to food at all times. For example, during an analysis of the impacts of rising international food prices for Botswana, BIDPA reported that food prices tended to be highest in the rural areas already disadvantaged by relatively low levels of income and high rates of unemployment,” said the study.

According to the paper, about 9 percent of households were found to be food insecure and this category of households included 6 percent of households that ranked poorly and 3 percent that were on the borderline according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) definition of food security.

Media reports state that the World Bank has warned that disruption to production and supply chains could ‘spark a food security crisis’ in Africa, forecasting a fall in farm production of up to 7 percent, if there are restrictions to trade, and a 25 percent decline in food imports.

Food security in Botswana or food production was also attacked by the locust pandemic which swept out this country’s vegetation and plants. The locust is said to have contributed to 25 percent loss in production.

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Solid demand for diamonds towards the ‘gift’ season

30th November 2020
Diamonds

Global lockdown have been a thorn in diamonds having shiny sales, but a lot of optimism shows with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the precious stones will be bought with high volumes towards festive season. The diamond market is however warned of the resurgence of Covid-19 in key markets presents ongoing risks amid the presence and optimist about the new Covid-29 vaccines.

The latest findings published as De Beers Group’s latest Diamond Insight ‘Flash’ Report, which looks at the impact of the pandemic on relationships and engagements, has revealed that in the US that more couples than ever are buying diamond engagement rings. Bridal sales is mostly the primary source of diamond jewellery demand in recent months, De Beers said.

According to De Beers, interviews with independent jewellers around the US revealed that the rate of couples getting engaged has increased compared with the period when Covid-19 first had an impact in the US in the spring.

“In addition, despite challenging economic times, consumers were spending more than ever on diamond engagement rings – often upgrading in colour, cut and clarity, rather than size. Several jewellers speculated that with consumers spending less on elaborate weddings and/or honeymoons in the current environment, they had more to spend on choosing the perfect ring,” said De Beers.

According to De Beers, a national survey of 360 US women in serious relationships, undertaken in late October in collaboration with engagement and wedding website, The Knot. This survey is said to have found that the majority of respondents (54%) were thinking more about their engagement ring than the wedding itself (32%) or the honeymoon (15%), supporting jewellers’ hypothesis that engagement ring sales were benefiting from reduced wedding and travel budgets in light of Covid-19 restrictions.

When it came to researching engagement rings, online was by far the predominant channel for gaining ideas/inspiration at 86% of consumers surveyed, with 85% saying they had saved examples of styles they liked, according to De Beers. According to the survey, only a uarter of respondents said they had looked in-store at a physical location for design inspiration.

“For many couples, the pandemic has brought them even closer together, in some instances speeding up the path to engagement after forming a deeper connection while experiencing lockdown and its associated ups and downs as a partnership. Engagement rings are taking on even greater symbolism in this environment, with retailers reporting couples are prepared to invest more than usual, particularly due to budget reductions in other areas,” De Beers CEO Cleaver said.

According to De Beers Group, its Diamond Insight Flash Report series is focused on understanding the US consumer perspective in light of Covid-19 and monitoring how it evolves as the crisis evolves. Also, the company said, it is augmenting its existing research programme with additional consumer, retailer and supply chain touch-basis to understand the pain points and the opportunities for stakeholders across the diamond pipeline.

Demand for diamonds is as hard and resilient as the precious stone itself. De Beers pocketed US$ 450 million in its recently held ninth rough diamond sales cycle, and the company says it is more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the ninth sales cycle of 2020, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.

“Steady demand for De Beers Group’s rough diamonds continued in the ninth sales cycle of the year, reflecting stable consumer demand for diamond jewellery at the retail level in the US and China, and expectations for reasonable demand to continue throughout the holiday season. However, the resurgence of Covid-19 infections in several consumer markets presents ongoing risks,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver recently.

High expectations are on diamonds being a sentimental gift for holiday season or as the most fetished gift. However the ninth cycle was lower than the eighth which registered US$ 467 million. For the last year period which corresponds with the current one, De Beers managed to raise US$ 400.

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