More Rough Diamonds for Namibia

June 28, 2005

More Rough Diamonds for Namibia

De Beers' Diamdel division, which sells rough diamonds to non-sightholders around the world, has opened a branch in Windhoek, Namibia. The opening ceremony was hosted by De Beers Group Chairman Nicky Oppenheimer and Group Managing Director Gary Ralfe. Hifikepunye Pohamba, president of the Republic of Namibia, was on hand to open the offices. Frank Auger, managing director of Diamdel NV, welcomed the office as "a significant step towards De Beers further supporting the entrepreneurial spirit of the local industry." Namibia, like other southern African countries, has been calling for diamantaires to help them create more jobs to benefit local people through gem cutting operations and jewelry making factories.

Exactly one year ago, Israeli diamantaire Lev Leviev, president of LLD, opened a diamond cutting factory in Namibia, along with officially inagurating his offshore diamond mining operation there. "This will be the largest and most advanced diamond polishing facility in Africa and, I believe, it is the first step on the road to the future growth and development of the economy of this very special country," Leviev said in a speech at the opening ceremony in 2004.

The new Diamdel office will be headed by Diamdel Namibia's Area Manager Paulus Shituna, a Namibian himself. Shituna has worked for the De Beers Group for 14 years, most recently at Diamdel Antwerp. "These remain early days for our Namibian operation. We are, however, hugely encouraged and enthused by the task at hand. We at Diamdel Namibia look forward to further drawing upon the considerable intellectual capital within the global Diamdel group towards assisting our locally-based clients in developing their businesses in the future," Shituna said.

De Beers and Namibia have an 11-year-old partnership, called Namdeb, to mine for diamonds onshore and offshore. "We believe Namdeb is an admirable example of what is achievable when the public sector and private sector work together," said Ralfe. Diamdel Namibia is located on the 6th floor in the Namdeb Centre, adjacent to the offices of De Beers Marine Namibia.

"Ultimately it is intended that Diamdel Namibia will play an instrumental role in helping to support the businesses of local visionary, innovative and financially sustainable diamantaires," the group said in a press release. "In furtherance of the Government of Namibia's beneficiation objectives and requirements, all goods will be directed towards those Diamdel clients capable of polishing rough within the country."

by Peggy Jo Donahue

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