De Beers Group’s commitment to Namibia’s future
From the moment Zacharia Lewala, a railroad worker, discovered them near Luderitz in 1908, diamonds and Namibia became synonymous with each other.
I think it is fair to assume that Mr Lewala couldn’t have predicted the impact his discovery was going to have on this country.
Jump forward to last week and De Beers’ commitment to Namibia and its people, which formed the very cornerstone of our partnership with the government when creating Namdeb Holdings – was evident in the announcement of our N$10 million contribution over five years towards educational support for underprivileged children.
This is a prime example of how businesses can, and should, directly support those in and around the communities where it operates. Only by staying true to the values shared by both sides, can these important investments be made.
I believe that there is no substitute for a good education and it is incumbent on all of us in positions of responsibility to do all we can to nurture the promise of Namibia’s youth as the leaders of tomorrow.
This year, more than 80 students at the University of Namibia (UNAM) will receive financial aid for their tuition fees, literature and accommodation. Our investment goes hand in hand with that of the government’s own endeavours to bring higher education opportunities to disadvantaged young people across the country – a very real example of our commitment to Namibia, but one of many.
Through our joint venture companies Namdeb and Debmarine Namibia we have provided bursaries that have helped students flourish across fields as diverse as science and engineering.
We have sponsored events that have helped to identify the next generation of talented young minds in the country’s primary and secondary schools.
And we remain a strong advocate of the sciences in education, investing heavily in programmes that have benefited more than 300 Namibians.
Our commitment to this country must remain firm even in challenging times, something that De Beers and the wider diamond industry experienced last year. Despite volatility in the market throughout 2015, we believe the sector’s outlook is promising, with Namibia playing a key role in its future. As partners, we are always looking for new and better ways to improve the country’s prospects for economic development.
This can be seen most clearly in the new 10-year sales agreement in principle with the government, announced last July, to sort, value and sell Namdeb Holdings’ diamonds.
The contract, currently being finalised and the longest ever agreed between De Beers and Namibia, will result in 15% of the diamonds mined by Namdeb Holdings passed to the government for onward sale. Importantly, it also means that more of the value generated by Namibia’s diamonds will remain in the country, with cutting and polishing companies amongst those that will realise this benefit.
We intend for diamonds to continue as the springboard of Namibia’s growth, but there is always more that can be done and the sales agreement and our partnership with UNAM are just a couple of examples.
As partners committed to Namibia, we want to deliver on the promise that Zacharia Lewala’s discovery helped to form all those years ago: a promise of a bright future for this country, and that of its people, for many years to come.