Sunday, April 20, 2008

Botswana, Use What You Have???

It is a well known fact that Botswana is the largest diamond producer in the world, according to Mmegi, producing 22% of the worlds diamonds. For decades people have been calling on the government of Botswana to add value to its diamonds before it exports them, most of the diamonds that Botswana produces were until recently sorted, polished mainly in London, Antwerp, and Israel, and these countries resisted heavily any value addition in Botswana. This was understandable as it would mean jobs being lost in these countries, the main excuse was that Botswana had no infrastructure to sort, polish or generally add value to the diamonds produced in Botswana.

Of late with South Africa insisting that more value addition of its minerals must take place in South Africa, this obviously embarrassed De Beers because if it can take place in South Africa it means it can take place in Botswana, all what was needed was some political will.

Recently De Beers helped Botswana set up the Diamond Trading Company (Botswana) that will supply local diamond cutters with diamonds so that they too can compete in more lucrative commercial aspects of the diamond industry. This is good news, and peaceful Botswana will continue to be a light, though a dull light in the African continent about how things can be done, try and use what you have, Botswana has diamonds.

In the sad reality of global politics it must be understood that it is not goodwill on De Beers part, they would rather not, if they would rather have this would have occurred back in the 1970’s, it has occurred 30 years later, one must commend th Botswana government, because the reality has finally dawned on them that for products to have more value, some extra work must be done.

Why dim light in Africa, that might seem negative but it is not, most other African societies there is no light of all, and in societies like Zimbabwe, Somalia, and Eritrea there is a black hole where the light is actually sucked in and destroyed. I will always maintain that Botswana can do more, far more, what they have to do is stop paying attention like what De Beers was saying for the past 40 years, that it is impossible for Africans to understand how to add value, Africans are genetically disposed to entertainment, athletics, lifting heavy loads, thinking must be discouraged, and note governments like Mugabe, Mobutu were favorites of countries that wanted to promote this view, and Mugabe, Mobutu set out to destroy the African intellect whilst especially Mugabe receiving awards from countries like Sweden, USA and been knighted for his humanitarianism.

Botswana can do far more, it just has to believe in knowledge, all these electronic components can be made in a stable Botswana, but they have to believe, believe in ones ability is most important, in the world of competition it is about discouraging your opponent, and sadly the opponent is usually decided on racial connotations. If ever Botswana wants to shine brightly it is time it competes with the mind, most African countries are too unstable to start competing at this level, the politicians are too busy fighting old colonial battles and most interestingly fighting he very blacks they say they are defending, how can causing poverty ever be the actions of a patriot.

Botswana needs to boost its universities and serious research needs to take place with the idea that knowledge will be commercialized, that now takes strong leadership with a vision and those who are genuine will not ever say Botswana can not compete at this level they should make do with what they have, diamonds.

Bhekuzulu Khumalo

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Bhekuzulu Khumalo

I write about knowledge economics, information, liberty, and freedom