JOHANNESBURG - Newly elected Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi says his government is in the process of ensuring that citizens are actively involved in the diamond industry for their benefit.
Masisi was speaking at the Diamond Conference in Gabarone on Tuesday, which was attended by ministers, senior government representatives, business leaders from around the world.
The conference organized by global mining giant De Beers and the Botswana government is intended to promote and strengthen co-operation in the diamond industry.
Masisi said his government has developed a Diamond Benefication strategy to allow citizens to participate in the diamond value chain.
"Amongst other things, this strategy will equip citizens with appropriate industry skills, general management and leadership skills as well as incubate citizen businesses," said Masisi.
Botswana is one of the African countries leading in diamond mining. The second- largest diamond in history has been discovered in Botswana. The 1,758-carat diamond, larger than a tennis ball, weighs close to 352 grams (12.42 ounces).
Masisi said these minerals should be directed to empowering and uplifting the citizens of Botswana.
He said the country will also look into moving further up the "pipeline to manufacturing and retail".
"Participation at these upmarket levels of the pipeline, however small, will go a long way in promoting the development of Gaborone as a Diamond City, and Botswana as the number one diamond destination," said Masisi.
Masisi is also pushing for the industry to create more jobs and is “dead determined” that more diamonds be cut and polished in the country.
He also stressed that the communities in whicb the mining activities take place in must be placed in a position to benefit from the diamonds.
"We have an obligation to motivate favorable development policies and robust business practices which accomodate the interest of these communities in the whole scheme of diamond mining and production," said Masisi.
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