“Funds raised from diamonds have not just built our roads, but also our people,” Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana, said as he opened JCK Las Vegas 2019 in a keynote speech delivered at a breakfast hosted by De Beers Group.
President Masisi, the fifth President of the Republic of Botswana, explained to the audience that for his country – one of the world’s leading diamond producing nations – diamonds are the lifeblood of the national economy and the key to future economic diversification and transformation.“With a contribution of approximately 35 per cent of our GDP coming from diamonds, they remain the most important source of revenue to my government and to our people,” President Masisi noted.
“We are in a space to utilise our revenue from diamonds to carve out a future for ourselves that enhances what we have, that leverages on our achievements, and propels us towards a knowledge economy.”
President Masisi also provided background on how diamonds had played an instrumental role in Botswana’s fight against HIV and AIDS in light of the threat posed to his nation following the epidemic’s outbreak.
“We rolled out antiretroviral therapy nationally very successfully, we hit impressive targets in the prevention of mother to child transmission, up to 95 per cent and beyond,” said President Masisi. “Then, for the first time through medical intervention, we were beginning to birth children from HIV positive parents who themselves were HIV negative, thanks to diamonds.”
President Masisi went on to highlight how diamonds were centrally important to the nation’s focus on conservation, noting “The main way we have funded our tourism and ecosystems management is from revenue generated through the mining of diamonds.“
Discussing the connection that runs all the way from a diamond discovered in Botswana through to the point at which it is sold at retail, President Masisi also appealed to buyers of Botswana’s diamonds to cherish them just as much as they are cherished in his nation for the positive impact they have.“The fact that you buy our diamonds is by itself an act of commitment to our country – wherever you are, you carry a bit of Botswana with you,” President Masisi said.
“Please care for it, because we care about it. Please use it wisely, because we have used it wisely.”