De Beers returns to†Angola†
De Beers Group, the global diamond mining giant is plotting a comeback to Angola, one of the world’s diamond rich countries.† On Tuesday De Beers – 15 % owned by Government of Botswana, announced it has applied to conduct exploration activities in north-eastern Angola.†
A statement from the London, United Kingdom headquarters explained that this move comes after†”substantive and consistent reforms implemented by the Government of Angola that enable the countryís diamond endowment to underpin transformative socio-economic growth for local communities”.
Following the Mineral Rights application submission, De Beers Group and the Government of Angola will open discussions in an effort to agree a Mineral Investment Contract, which would establish legally binding terms and conditions to be met by both parties for activities in north-eastern Angola.
Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers Group, said: ďAngola has made significant progress towards creating a stable and more predictable investment environment in which the people of Angola can directly benefit from increased foreign direct investment. As a result of this Ė and with De Beersí recognised Building Forever framework for creating lasting positive socio-economic impact for communities, our innovative FutureSmart Mining programme that is transforming mining technologies to deliver a significantly reduced environmental footprint, and our proven track record of establishing responsible and mutually beneficial partnerships in the region Ė we look forward to positive and transparent discussions with government about the possibility of future investment.Ē
ďIn line with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains, we believe that responsible foreign investment by the private sector can be an important catalyst for social change in countries working to reform their economies. Should we discover an investment opportunity in the region, we will apply the same proven governance, social impact and environmental framework that has contributed to long-term and sustainable socio-economic development in the neighbouring countries of Botswana and Namibia,Ē Cleaver said.
De Beers Group has a long track record of operating responsibly in southern Africa, including long-standing and highly regarded operations in Botswana and Namibia.† De†Beers Groupís diamond operations have played a significant role in helping grow those countriesí economies in particular, building thriving communities, creating meaningful social outcomes and contributing significantly to the national fiscus.
The company which is 15 % owned by Government of Botswana left Angola in 2001 after talks failed to renew business agreements with the government. De Beers has however been prospecting a comeback and plotting a return to Angola since 2014.† Angola is one of the world diamond rich countries with chunk of untapped resources. It is the world’s sixth-biggest producer and third on the African continent after Botswana and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
According to the African Diamond Council, the diamond industry in Angola represents nearly 1.2 billion euros in annual production.†Angola produced 8 million carats of rough diamonds in 2020, a 15.4% decrease from 2019ís 9.4 million, according to Angolaís Ministry of Mineral Resources and Petroleum.
In a bid to diversify its revenue stream away from overreliance on oil, Angola enacted reforms to its mining sector geared towards improving the regulatory environment, the president says. The reforms included a new model for governing the sector, and the creation of the National Agency for Mineral Resources tasked with regulating, inspecting and promoting diamond mining.
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Stargems Group establishes Training Center in BW
Internationally-acclaimed diamond manufacturing company StarGems Group has established the Stargems Diamond Training Center which will be providing specialized training in diamond manufacturing and evaluation.
The Stargems Diamond Training Institute is located at the Stargems Group Botswana Unit in Gaborone.
‚ÄúIn accordance with the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS) which holds the principle that through education and skills development as well as the strategic alignment between national ambitions and individual capabilities, Botswana will become a prosperous, productive and innovative nation due to the quality and efficacy of its citizenry. The Training Centre will provide a range of modules in theory and in practice; from rough diamond evaluation to diamond grading and polishing for Batswana, at no cost for eight weeks. The internationally- recognized certificate offered in partnership with Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School presents invaluable opportunities for Batswana to access in the diamond industry locally and internationally. The initiative is an extension of our Corporate Social Investment to the community in which we operate,‚ÄĚ said Vishal Shah, Stargems Group Managing Director, during the launch of the Stargems Diamond Training Center.
In order to participate in this rare opportunity, interested candidates are invited to submit a police clearance certificate and a BGCSE certificate only to the Stargems offices.¬† Students who excel in these programs will have the chance to be onboarded by the Stargems Group. This serves as motivation for them to go through this training with a high level of seriousness.
‚ÄúCommunity empowerment is one of our CSR principles. We believe that businesses can only thrive when their communities are well taken of. We are hoping that our presence will be impactful to various communities and economies. In the six countries that we are operating in, we have contributed through dedicating 10% of our revenues during COVID-19 to facilitate education, donating to hospitals and also to NGOs committed to supporting women and children living with HIV. One key issue that we are targeting in Botswana is the rate of unemployment amongst the youth. We are looking forward to working closely with the government and other relevant authorities to curb unemployment,‚ÄĚ said Shah.
Currently, Stargems Group has employed 117 Batswana and they are looking forward to growing the numbers to 500 as the company grows. Majority of the employees will be graduates from the Stargems Diamond Training Center. This initiation has been received with open arms by the general public and stakeholders. During the launch, the Minister of Minerals and Energy, ¬†Honorable Lefoko Moagi, stated that the ministry fully endorses Stargems Diamond Training and will work closely with the Group to support and grow the initiative.
‚ÄúAs a ministry, we see this as an game changer that is aligned with one of the United Nations’ Six Priority Sustainable Development Goals, which is to Advance Opportunity and Impact for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What Stargems Group is launching today will have a huge impact on the creation of employment in Botswana. An economy‚Äôs productivity rises as the number of educated workers increases as its skilled workmanship increases. It is not a secret that low skills perpetuate poverty and widen the inequality gap, therefore the development of skills has the potential to contribute significantly to structural transformation and economic growth by enhancing employability and helping the country become more competitive. We are grateful to see the emergence of industry players such as Stargems Group who have strived to create such opportunities that mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy,‚ÄĚ said the Minister of Minerals and Energy.
Food import bill slightly declines
The latest figures released by Statistics Botswana this week shows that food import bill for Botswana slightly declined from around P1.1 billion in November 2022 to around P981 million in December during the same year.
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Moody‚Äôs Reaffirms African Trade Insurance‚Äôs A3 Rating & Revises Outlook to Positive
Moody‚Äôs Investors Service (‚ÄúMoody‚Äôs‚ÄĚ) has affirmed the A3 insurance financial strength rating (IFSR) of the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) for the fifth consecutive year and changed the outlook from stable to positive.
Moody‚Äôs noted that the change in outlook to positive reflects the strong growth in ATI‚Äôs membership base – that has resulted in improved portfolio diversification, strengthened capital adequacy, and the good profitability despite the challenging operating environment. In addition, ATI benefits from its preferred creditor status (PCS) amongst sovereign member states which protects it from the risk of default by member sovereigns through securing recoveries against claims paid on guarantees.
The strong membership and equity growth are some of the key considerations for the consistent reinstatement of ATI‚Äôs A/Stable rating by Standard & Poor‚Äôs and Moody‚Äôs rating, over the years. Also supporting the rating affirmation are; consistent improvement in financial performance, commitment of its shareholders who continue to uphold the preferred creditor status, its high quality and conservative investment portfolio as well as strong relationships with a number of global reinsurers that provide significant risk-bearing capacity.
With the change in outlook to ‚Äúpositive‚ÄĚ, ATI is now better placed to provide enhanced support to its member countries, attract additional shareholding and grow its portfolio. The positive outlook is an indication that if ATI continues to demonstrate its strong underwriting performance and ability to recover claims under the preferred creditor arrangements, among other factors, an upward pressure towards an upgrade may be generated. The Moody’s press release can be accessed from¬†here
Commenting on the rating, Africa Trade Insurance Chief Executive Officer Manuel Moses said: ‚ÄúThis positive revision is in line with our 2023 – 2027 strategic objectives in which we set to improve our rating outlook to positive in the first year, and achieve an upgrade of at least ‚ÄúAA‚ÄĚ/Stable rating by both Moody‚Äôs and S&P within this Strategic Plan period. We aim to achieve this by doubling our exposures and increasing our capital to more than USD1 billion.‚ÄĚ
ATI‚Äôs mandate is to provide trade-credit and political risk insurance, as well as other risk mitigation products to its member countries and related¬†public and private sector actors. These insurance products not only directly encourage and facilitate foreign direct investment as well as local private sector investment in our member countries, but also contribute to intra- and extra-African trade.
About The African Trade Insurance Agency¬†
ATI was founded in 2001 by African States to cover trade and investment risks of companies doing business in Africa. ATI predominantly provides Political Risk, Credit Insurance and, Surety Insurance. Since inception, ATI has supported US$78 billion worth of investments and trade into Africa. For over a decade, ATI has maintained an ‚ÄėA/Stable‚Äô rating for Financial Strength and Counterparty Credit by Standard & Poor‚Äôs, and in 2019, ATI obtained an A3/Stable rating from Moody‚Äôs, which has now been revised to A3/Positive.