According to Botswana’s government, there is a risk it will be unable to renew a 10-year sales agreement with diamond company, De Beers ahead of December, when the existing one expires, as the COVID-19 pandemic has impeded negotiations.
Leading diamond producer, De Beers says it could continue to operate under the existing agreement temporarily in the event of a delay.
“We remain focused on working with government regarding the next agreement and seeking to finalise it”, according to De Beers spokeswoman, Kesego Okie.
As the Debswana Mining company provides the country with around two-thirds of its foreign exchange and makes up a fifth of its GDP, a deal is necessary and any delay could tamper with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s efforts to create jobs in a country with high unemployment by boosting a fledgling diamond polishing and cutting industry.
Nine years ago, De Beers agreed to transfer its global sightholder sales, which account for 90% of its total sales, from London to Gaborone, generating investment and thousands of jobs in Botswana.