Botswana Diamond Conference Calls For Innovation In Business Planning

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The De Beers Group of Companies, together with the Ministry of Minerals, Green Technology and Energy Security hosted the Botswana Diamond Conference 2016 on 8th – and 9th November at Gaborone International Conference Centre.

 Nonofo Molefhi was a speaker at the conference

Nonofo Molefhi was a speaker at the conference

The conference brought together representatives from the diamond industry from around the world to debate current industry challenges and issues and explore future strategies for sustainable business.

“The Conference presented an opportunity for, not only the diamond sector, but also the country’s development agenda for the future. The theme, ‘Beyond Tomorrow’, challenges us, a country that has been mining diamonds for over four decades, to be more vigilant, innovative, and visionary,” said Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

“The Government of Botswana, with the support of De Beers has put together a strategy for beneficiation in Botswana. This strategy has enabled growth in a number of cutting and polishing factories and in secondary trading of rough diamonds. The positive impact has been a substantial increase in employment year on year.”

Botswana is unique not only for its high quality diamonds, but also for its extremely successful public-private partnership with De Beers which has seen significant social investment from diamonds play a key role in transformation and upliftment.

“The purpose of the conference was to afford delegates an opportunity to discuss important issues around the industry to ensure the integrity of diamonds are protected and thereby create a lasting legacy. Our partnership with Botswana stretches back nearly fifty years and, for De Beers, Botswana is the heart of our business and our most important partner. We therefore view this conference as having a symbiotic relationship to the role Botswana can play as a benchmark for everyone both in the developed and new world countries,” said Neo Moroka, Resident Director for De Beers in Botswana.

“The conference tackled critical topics that addressed the diamond sector challenges and opportunities, present and future. Through the Diamond Hub, Government is committed to helping the diamond industry become viable despite the challenges facing manufacturers in Botswana. Some of the initiatives geared toward improving the business environment are the minerals policy review and regular engagement with stakeholders,” said Nonofo Molefhi, Acting Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security.

Key issues discussed included a plenary session on the changing landscape of consumer demand. In-depth discussions on strengthening the links of the value chain expanded on models of sustainable financing for the diamond industry, provenance and transparent supply chains and a closer look at true success models of Public Private Partnerships.

It was noted that all players in the diamond value chain need to be innovative in their business planning. Current challenges include the fact that opportunities for marketing diamonds have shifted significantly in the past few years. With the advent of augmented retail experiences, reaching today’s consumer requires agile, audience appropriate, marketing strategies.

“We currently face a number of challenges. Issues such as the future of financing, industry efficiency and changing consumer trends are all set to test us in the years ahead but as challenging as each of these may be, they also represent opportunities for us to improve the way we work and to become even stronger in the future. While we are seeing changing consumer trends, the same forces that drive these are also delivering the creation of millions of new middle class households around the world – especially in China – as well as the financial maturation of the millennial generation.” said Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group.

Another key discussion centered on innovative and disruptive technologies and highlighted advances in synthetic diamond detection technology and the impact this has on the future of manufacturing and retailing. The impact of disruptive innovation on business models was another noteworthy topic with insights from global service provider Uber.

“In 1966, when Botswana gained independence from Britain, we were classified as one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. What is encouraging though is that in spite of the global economic challenges, Botswana continues to be one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.

For the third year in a row, Botswana has been ranked the most prosperous country in Africa by the Africa Prosperity Report. Diamond revenues are the main drivers of the high economic growth that Botswana continues to experience” Said Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Honourable Thapelo Olopeng

The future of the industry centers on collaboration, and The Diamond Conference provided a unique platform, gathering industry heavyweights from across the globe to pull together in a collective focus to make sure it is one that is full of promise.

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