Botswana President and leader of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Mokgweetsi Masisi. (Monirul Bhuiyan, AFP)
- This week, the KPCS will deliberate on the status of Russian diamonds amid the war in Ukraine.
- Botswana President Masisi says diamonds are the backbone of his economy.
- Russian firm Alrosa is looking to expand its operations across Africa.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) plenary meeting is taking place in Gaborone, Botswana until Friday and is expected to decide whether Russian diamonds should be declared conflict gems.
The Kimberley Process unites governments, civil societies and industry in reducing the flow of conflict diamonds – “rough diamonds used to fund wars against governments” – around the world.
Russia is currently leading an invasion of Ukraine and diamonds are a significant part of the country’s budget and economy.
The fears are that diamond revenues are funding the war.
A complete ban on Russian gemstones would be a blow to a country that is already trading under the radar.
Outside of Russia, Alrosa, one of the country’s diamond producers, has operations in Zimbabwe, Angola and Botswana.
Alrosa is also negotiating with Sierra Leone for the possibility of mining gemstones there.
The United States, a major global market for diamonds, banned Russian gemstones in April, giving a major boost to diamond producers in Africa.
In a statement, the Kimberly Process Civic Society Coalition said the KPCS is meeting in Gaborone “amid growing concern over the programme’s inability to address ever-evolving forms of conflict in diamond production and trade. “.
The coalition expressed concern that communities across Africa with diamond deposits continue to suffer from the resource curse and that the KPC was not adequately addressing the problem, two decades after its formation .
“As KPCS celebrates its 20th anniversary next year (2023), most diamond mining communities in Africa and the people of Ukraine will be counting the lives lost, environmental damage and human rights abuses caused by diamond mines or by states whose budgets are heavily funded by the production and trade of diamonds,” the coalition said.
The coalition says the KPCS’ failures can be noted in ongoing complaints from communities such as Maluti in Lesotho, marginalized Koidu landowners in Sierra Leone and communities living along the Tshikapa and Kasai rivers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The fate of the Jagersfontein community in South Africa, where tailings dams have burst, flooded and displaced communities, may be similar to that of many other diamond mining communities around the world, particularly in Africa, which produces most rough diamonds.
The plenary coincided with the Natural Diamond Summit in Gaborone.
Speaking at the summit, the President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, said: “For us as a country, diamonds are much more than beautiful, rare and precious stones. They are the backbone of our economy.
It was a good year for Botswana.
The country’s Debswana Diamond Company, owned by De Beers and the Botswana government, saw a 37.5% rise in sales in the first nine months of this year, according to government figures.
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