More diamond cutting skills needed

Tujoromajo Kasuto

Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo says the local diamond cutting and polishing industry is likely to flourish only when the country has all the needed skills from the lowly skilled ones to the highly developed ones.

He said Namibia is at a stage where the country needs to optimize more on diamond cutting and polishing to create the much needed employment.

“We wish to encourage companies to take the issue of skills transfer seriously, especially high level skills. You will agree with me that in the long run this is not only in the best interest of the local economy, but also in the best interest of the companies from the operational cost perspective,” said Alweendo

He said they will invite investors to come and invest in the economy provided that such investments are mutually beneficial to both the investors and the local economy.

He further said that for Namibia to have a flourishing diamond cutting and polishing industry, there is a need for full collaboration with companies that have invested in the industry.

In the cutting and polishing industry the current arrangement is that, for certain justifiable operational reasons, companies can be allowed to export a certain percentage of the diamonds they have purchased from the NDTC in rough.

This was done to allow companies time to improve their operational efficiencies such that all their purchased diamonds are cut and polished locally.

Alweendo however, revealed that the Ministry has observed that some of the companies tend to abuse this concession and continue to export diamonds in a rough form, instead of doing the cutting and polishing locally.

“We will start to be stricter with the conditions under which this concession can be utilised; and will demand that all diamonds purchased from the NDTC are cut and polished locally,” he vowed

This comes as diamond mining plays an important role in the economy, representing 25 percent of exports from the mining sector.

In the 2020/21 fiscal year almost 20 percent of corporate tax came from the diamond industry.

Consequently, Alweendo said that “there is therefore no doubt that the diamond sector is one of the most important sectors in the economy. That then requires that we, as stewards of this precious resource, need to manage it with due care, on behalf of the owners, the Namibian people.'”

Currently, Namibia has 11 active cutting and polishing companies and over 900 people are employed in this sector.

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