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Diamantaires eyeing Botswana for investment – Expert

Todd Majaye

Botswana’s positioning as a major diamond centre is enticing major investors from around the world who are however stifled by shortage of Diamond supply. This is according to diamond expert, Todd Majaye who also posits that Botswana has to focus on giving the industry to its citizens.


“There are more than 10 big companies, even bigger than Sightholders, who want to come and set up in Botswana but the supply (diamonds) is taken up by Sightholders.”


 “The mandate of Okavango (Diamond Company) has to be changed or expanded; it should now be used as an empowerment tool,” adding that “right now it is not easy to buy diamonds if you are a small trader because the packets will be too expensive for you. Sight holders should be cut off (from ODC) because they have De Beers diamonds,” declares Majaye.


ODC was set up to open access to Botswana’s diamonds, drawing in diamond buyers from around the world to each sale, with a view to generating business for the domestic service sector in hospitality, tourism and transport, as well as stimulating further investment and opportunities in diamond industry services.


In 2011, for the first time, it was agreed that the Botswana Government and its partners at De Beers Diamond Company that the country would independently sell 10 percent of the Debswana run-of-mine production increasing by 1 percent each year to 15 percent in 2016. De Beers also agreed to relocate Diamond Trading Company International (DTCI) from London to Gaborone by the end of 2013, which subsequently took place as schedule.


In an interview with BusinessPost, Majaye, who is the Director of Afrimond Diamond and Jewellery Institute, says that Botswana’s diamond beneficiation objective is being achieved “but we are not working hard enough to benefit from the full potential of it; we need to advance the industry further.”


“There are no statistics but I know of many businesses and partnerships that have been created directly as a spinoff of the diamond sales taking place here.”


Majaye, who was instrumental in the advocacy for the reforms in the agreement, says that institutions are continually sending the staff for training at Afrimond, a sign that the industry will soon have local institutional investors. “We need institutional investors in the diamond business because it will make money to flow and more businesses will spring out from that.”


. The P50 billion pula annual business stands to have a multiplier factor of two and a half times (P130 billion), if harnessed fully, according to Majaye.


Majaye says that the main objective that the country should pursue is to create entrepreneurship in the Diamond industry rather than trying to create employees for the business.


“We said we are building a global diamond centre and such a centre is where various processes of the diamond pipeline take place; cutting, polishing and jewellery making, but we are in better position than other centres because we have mining”


Majaye said: “We need to change the perception that diamond trading is for big people; We should have broader trading activities, with large scale traders including Sightholders, as well as medium and small traders”


“We need to come aggressively with a robust training policy and this training should not be about jobs only but we should be training entrepreneurs, this policy should be about teaching people holistically to become entrepreneurs,” adding that, “we should be a labour sending nation and receive remittances from around the world”


On the subject of beneficiation, Majaye said that the beneficiation was a success, albeit more should be done to harness the full potential of the industry.


“The beneficiation is working, but we are not yet doing enough as a nation to benefit from the potential spin offs of diamond sales being located at home”


“Beneficiation must be driven by people with a vision and this is the private sector; Government must remain as a regulator and stakeholder.


Majaye also said that the industry is very viable and that recent closure of Teemane Diamond Company should not send jitters to the potential investors.


“Closures are common in every industry it does mean the industry is falling; even if five companies leave, there are bigger players coming in.”


Majaye said that location of the firms is very important, emphasising that for now, factories should be situated in urban areas where there are facilities such as airports.


“Gaborone, Francistown and Maun with the tourism factor, are ideal places for diamond factories to be set up and Government must be more proactive about getting more ideas from different people, for development”


Majaye cites the closure of the Serowe based diamond manufacturing company, Teemane Diamond Company, which closed in early February 2015, as an example of what will happen if there are no deliberate efforts to make Batswana owners of the diamond business.


The now defunct Teemane Diamond Company, earlier this year, released a statement that the industry is still very vibrant, but the company had to close due to commercial pressures which include “the problem of polished diamond prices that are too low for the current high rough prices. The Serowe based diamond manufacturer, which left 320 employees jobless when it closed down in early February this year, was the biggest diamond manufacturing firm in Southern Africa.


Majaye also thinks that Botswana should open its doors to diamonds from the region, particularly Zimbabwe as the northern neighbor is now compliant to the Kimberly process and European countries such as Belgium have embraced diamonds mined from there.


Botswana’ diamond story which began in the late 1960s culminated in the Diamond Technology Park which was opened in 2008 along with the Botswana Government’s Diamond Hub. In 2011, Botswana became a full member of the International Diamond Manufacturing Association and hosted its annual conference in Gaborone.

In 2008, the Botswana Government clustered a number of major development projects into six hubs to attract internal and external investment while a Diamond Hub was established to facilitate beneficiation and promote Botswana as one of the world’s major diamond trading centres.

Afrimond Diamond and Jewellery Institute was established with the sole aim of bridging the diamond and jewellery knowledge and skills gaps that exists within the African continent and this achieved has been achieved in several countries, such as Zimbabwe and South Africa, through training, consultancy, research and networking.

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Business

Pan-African risk advisor Minet Group and Botswana’s Africa Lighthouse Capital acquire Aon Botswana

21st May 2021
Pan-African-risk-advisor-Minet-Group-

Strategic partnership offers inherent benefits of global knowledge, African insights, and local expertise and commitment

Minet Group and Africa Lighthouse Capital today announced that they have received regulatory approval and fulfilled all requirements to acquire Aon’s shareholding in Aon Botswana, and consequently will begin the process to rebrand to Minet Botswana.

Minet Group is a well-known and trusted pan-African risk advisory firm and Aon’s largest Global Network Correspondent and has been rapidly expanding its African footprint since 2017 through the acquisition of operations from global professional services firm Aon in Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.   Minet has been delivering world class products and services across Africa for over 70 years.

Africa Lighthouse Capital (ALC) is a leading Botswana citizen-owned private equity firm focused on investing in Botswana companies and propelling them into regional champions, with over BWP 500 million in funds under management.

The new entity will be rebranded to Minet and will inherit deeply rooted respect by its clients for their innovative and locally relevant solutions, responsiveness, and efficient processes. Furthermore, it shall have the benefit of consistency in leadership and staffing, with Barnabas Mavuma, previously Managing Director of Aon Botswana, continuing to lead the business as the MD supported by the local management team.

 “The addition of Minet Botswana to our growing African network affirms our belief in the great opportunities for growth that Africa offers, driven by rising consumer demand, huge investment in infrastructure and quick adoption of new technology,” says Joe Onsando, CEO at Minet Group.

“This transaction significantly adds to the diversity and skills base of our team and will have a positive impact on the range of products and services we provide. Our Correspondent agreement with Aon gives us access to global expertise and data driven insights and uniquely positions us to deliver risk advisory solutions that reduce volatility, thus driving improved performance for our clients. This is a very exciting time to be Minet in Africa.”

“The significantly increased Botswana citizen shareholding effected by this transaction gives rise to an exciting era of local market focus and growth for Minet Botswana,” says Bame Pule, Founder and CEO of Africa Lighthouse Capital.  “We intend to work with Minet Botswana’s local management team to further localise the business in terms of product development, while at the same time investing in local skills development and business development.  We look forward to this exciting journey, which will result in a significantly enhanced service offering for Minet Botswana’s clients.”

Consequently, and similar to the other members of the Minet Group, Minet Botswana becomes an Aon Global Network Correspondent, retaining its access to Aon’s resources, technology, and best practises, combined with the benefit of independent, local agility. This transaction furthermore significantly increases local shareholding, enabling operations to become even nimbler and better positioned to unlock new and existing growth opportunities.

Clients of Minet Botswana will experience continuity of product and service delivery standards in the short term. In the near future, they can expect an enhanced offering that combines agility with technology and product innovation, tailormade for their specific needs.

Together, Minet and ALC bring a sound understanding of local market conditions, strong governance, and an established track record in the region. These qualities, combined with Aon’s global capabilities and expertise, will bring clear benefits for clients.

This transaction vastly increases citizen ownership with shareholders who are going to be active in the business. The transfer of equity interests in Botswana to investors with local and regional expertise, presence and commitment will allow the businesses to move quickly in line with market movements, and to introduce products that are tailored to the local market.

“Minet’s commitment and drive to incessantly adapt to changing market conditions, and to innovate to meet the unique insurance demands of the African continent, while maintaining the high standards customers have come to expect – Onsando concludes – will continue to grow and give Minet a powerful competitive edge within the African market”.

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Africa scores $285 Billion IMF deal

21st May 2021
IMF-Managing-Director-Kristalina-Georgieva

French President Emmanuel Macron received 21 Heads of state and government officials from Africa during the recent summit on the Financing of African Economies that focused on Africa to take full advantage of the tectonic shifts in the global economy and the call for a joint effort for financial and vaccination support for the continent.

President Emmanuel Macron stressed that “Most regions of the world are now launching massive post-pandemic recovery plans, using their huge monetary and fiscal instruments. But most African economies suffer the lack of adequate capacities and such instruments to do the same. We cannot afford leaving the African economies behind.

We, the Leaders participating to the Summit, in the presence of international organizations, share the responsibility to act together and fight the great divergence that is happening between countries and within countries.

This requires collective action to build a very substantial financial package, to provide a much-needed economic stimulus as well as the means to invest for a better future. Our ambition is to address immediate financing needs, to strengthen the capacity of African governments to support a strong and sustainable economic recovery and to reinforce the vibrant African private sector, as a long-term growth driver for Africa.”

For her part, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva highlighted that “there is urgency to focus on financing Africa. Last year, the pandemic-caused recession shrank the GDP of the Continent by 1.9 percent – the worst performance on record. This year, we project global growth at 6 percent, but only half that 3.2 percent for Africa.” Adding that Africa needs to grow faster than the world at 7 to 10 percent to meet the aspirations of its youthful populations, and become more prosperous and more secure.

Georgieva revealed that the price tag on the shot is estimated to be “$285 billion through 2025. Of this $135 billion is for low-income countries. This is the bare minimum. To do more – to get African nations back on their previous path of catching up with wealthy countries – will cost roughly twice as much. These are large numbers. They may seem out of reach. But to quote Nelson Mandela: impossible until it is done.”

The main areas of interest to achieve this include; first, end the pandemic everywhere, 40 percent of the population of all countries is targeted to get vaccinated by the end of 2021, and at least 60 percent by mid-2022.

Second, bilateral and multilateral development financing grants and concessional loans ought to go up. Over the last year, the IMF have swiftly ramped their financing for the Continent, including providing 13 times their average annual lending to sub-Saharan Africa. And are working to do much more. The IMF has also received support to increase access limits so they can scale up their zero-interest lending capacity through the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust.

The IMF has also devised exceptional measures. Their membership backs an unprecedented new allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) of $650 billion, by far the largest in their history. Once approved, which is intended to be achieved by the end of August, it will directly and immediately make about $33 billion available to African members. It will boost their reserves and liquidity, without adding to their debt burden.

Over the course of the last year, the IMF has built experience in facilitating the on lending of SDRs – thus managing to triple their concessional lending capacity as a result.

The Third being, actions at home. According to Georgieva “a crisis is an opportunity for transformational domestic reforms that increase domestic revenue, improve public services, and strengthen governance. For instance, digitalization can improve tax administration and revenue collection, and the quality of public spending. And with radical transparency, Africa can tap into new sources of finance – such as carbon offsets.

There is ample scope for countries to encourage private investment, including in social and physical infrastructure. New IMF research, published today, highlights that domestic and international investors could provide at least 3 percent of GDP per year of additional financing by the end of this decade.”

Reforms of international taxation can also support Africa’s growth. For a long time, the IMF has been in favor of minimum corporate tax rates to reduce the race to the bottom and tax avoidance. And they strongly support an international agreement on digital tax, something France has been a leading voice for. It is important to secure fair distribution of tax revenues, so they can contribute to closing Africa’s financial gap.

Georgieva called on to each and every one to step up. Reminding the attendees that from history they are all familiar with what a shock of this magnitude can do if not countered forcefully and effectively.

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Indian COVID-19 variant hits Botswana diamond sales

20th May 2021
Indian-Covid--19-variant-hit-rough-diamonds-sales---De-Beers-

De Beers’ Group, the world’s number one diamond producer by value, this week attributed the downfall of its sales for the fourth cycle week to the second wave of the Covid-19 variant (B.1.617.2) which was first discovered in India.

Diamond trading conditions have been hit by the Covid-19 crisis in India which is a major cutting and polishing centre for the world’s diamond trade.

The outbreak of the new variant has led to a humanitarian crisis with 280, 284 fatalities of the disease reported.

The London headquartered company said the sales in its fourth cycle fell to $380m (about P4.1 billion) down from $450m (about P4.8 billion) in the third cycle though it was higher than the fifth cycles of last year when the group shifted only $56m (P600 million).

De Beers emphasized that they continued to implement a more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the fourth sales cycle of 2021, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.

The De Beers group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bruce Cleaver said the company continues to see robust demand for diamond jewellery in the key US and China consumer markets.

“However, the scale of the second wave of Covid-19 in India, where the majority of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished, has led to reduced midstream capacity and subsequently lower rough diamond demand, during what is already a seasonally slower time of year for midstream purchases,” said Cleaver.

Meanwhile Botswana health officials have confirmed the new Covid-19 variant in Botswana. The Ministry of Health and Wellness -through a press statement- informed members of the public that the variant (B.1.617), was confirmed in Botswana on 13th May 2021.

According to Christopher Nyanga, spokesperson at the Ministry, this followed a case investigation within Greater Gaborone, involving people of Indian origin who arrived in the country on the 24th April 2021.

Moreover the World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that the Indian Covid-19 variant was a global concern, with some data suggesting that the variant has “increased transmissibility” compared with other strains.

The India variant (B.1.617.2) – is one of four mutated versions of the coronavirus which has been designated as being “of concern” by transitional public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.

Nevertheless when speaking at Bank of America Global Metals and Mining conference, Anglo American Chief Executive Officer, Mark Cutifani said the company portfolio is increasingly tilted towards future enabling products and those that need to decarbonise energy and transport in order to meet consumers’ needs – from home appliances, electronics and infrastructure, to food and luxury goods.

“We see material opportunity for Anglo American to continue to set itself apart in terms of the performance of our diversified business, further enhanced through sector-leading 25% volume growth over the next four years, led by copper and the platinum group metals,” said Cutifani.

“Most importantly, as the supplier of such critical materials, it is the duty of our industry to ensure that in everything we do, we act responsibly and deliver enduring value for our full breadth of stakeholders, including our planet.”

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