Namdia earmarks 2023 for “Namibianisation”

Tujoromajo Kasuto

Namib Desert Diamonds (Pty) (Namdia) aims to create a brand that people can easily identify with as the entity transitions from its infancy stage and brainstorm a new branding sector and digital marketing for the country’s diamonds in 2023.

Namdia’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alisa Amupolo, says the company is entering a new strategic phase, and this is the first year of a five-year strategic plan. Moving from the infancy stage in terms of operational maturity, superior governance, and ensuring controls are in place, as well as implementing audit findings and refining its business model.

She says particularly challenging has been their sales process, as well as reputational issues and ensuring that Namdia consistently communicates a positive message about it and what it does. Emphasising the transparency aspect, expressing concern that the company is closed and elite in an ivory tower with no access to it for most Namibians to connect with and relate to.

“We want to tell the beautiful story of the Namibian diamond because many people are unaware that the Namibian diamond is known as the “Queen of diamonds” by our clients because of its alluvial beauty, flawless and semi-polished quality, and lack of time spent in the factory, which is mostly known in Namibia and not so much outside of Namibia.”

Adding that the company is trying to make a place for Namibian diamonds, and when its clients market its products, that they have little gem corners in New York, Dubai, and other places.

In the future, she states that the company will enforce some of the prerequisites of the client selection process, one of which is branding and ensuring that they promote the Namibian diamond story. “We are developing a branding strategy for Namdia diamonds and will go to market with a well-thought-out strategy for moving the Namibian diamond forward. Our training initiatives are currently underway, and we are reviewing our human resources and policies to ensure that we are the best employers,” she asserts.

Adding that the company has four pillars for its strategic plan, one of which is to ensure that they are the leading diamond trader and that 100 percent pure Namibian diamonds prevail across the value chain.

Amupolo says Namibian diamonds are currently used as a witness in other markets for their premium value and Namdia is the only company in the world that sells 100 percent unaggregated diamonds. “We are looking at new sales channels, as we currently have two, which are the hybrid model and competitive bidding, but our mandate is price discovery, so we need to do this within the diamond trading sector, and we need to explore other viable models and get to a point where we can now start looking at downstream beneficiation as we cannot be satisfied with just trading rough,” she explains.

She notes that this is important as when people don’t understand the value, the company won’t attract the clientele required to get the most value. Saying it is about advancing the mandate of price discovery and refining their internal processes. Also stating that the company is considering increasing its stake in the government’s and De Beers’ sales agreement, under which the Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) sells Namibian diamonds on behalf of Namdeb Holdings to De Beers for an 85 percent entitlement and Namdia for a 15 percent entitlement to the goods.

She hints that the company would want a ten percent hike on their royalties but still maintained that the current agreement is effective but “more won’t hurt.”

Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) Chief Public Relations Officer, Andreas Simon, says that the sales and marketing agreement, which was a 10-year agreement will come to an end in 2026. Negotiations with regard to the agreement are yet to commence and it all depends on what directives Government will give as a shareholder with DeBeers. “Such directives would be the key guiding points for the negotiations. As of now, the negotiation team has not yet been appointed. Let’s assume the Namdia entitlement is increased, which means GRN will sell more rough diamonds to the open market and Namdia‘s dividend share would increase,” he says.

Simon does however highlight that it is premature to confirm if DeBeers will be interested in the above as it will all depend on the negotiations between the parties.

Economist, Salomo Hei, says it’s a step in the right direction for beneficiation and local content and adds that, “Namibianisation” of the diamond industry is critical for inclusive growth.”

By Observer