Daily News  :: Southern Africa


'Botswana won't sell stake in De Beers'

Published: 17-OCT-06

Gaborone - Botswana’s president has said that his country would not sell its 15 percent stake in the world’s largest diamond mining company, even though this might be to the detriment of efforts aligned with diversifying the economy off the precious mineral.

Festus Mogae said that the Southern Africa country would keep its interest in De Beers to ensure that Botswana got a “fair share of the revenue”, while keeping a focus on expanding its diamond beneficiation industry.

In July an Israel-based Chaim Even-Zohar, the major shareholder of Tacy Ltd., a Tel Aviv-based diamond research company, said that the 15 percent had lost its "strategic value" suggesting that Botswana would sell its stake.

Even-Zohar further added that revenue from the sale could be better used to diversify the economy off diamond revenue. Botswana earns 70 percent of its export earnings from the industry.

Government officials have also said that the country would stay involved in the diamond industry.

Botswana has made good use of its mineral wealth. Mogae said that 90 percent of the country’s population had access to education because of diamonds and that 68 000 citizens were on antiretroviral drugs. While this has been welcomed by many, critics have suggested that HIV treatment was unsustainable given the country’s inability to attract investment in sectors other than mining even though the country's population was well educated.

Although the government has been campaigning to increase FDI, the country’s small population makes it a difficult market to develop. -Business in Africa Online

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