Rebirth of an icon
The shareholder restructuring of Debmarine which saw government become an equal partner in the company together with diamond giant, De Beers is part of the struggle to ensure that Namibians benefit from the country’s natural resources, according to Prime Minister Nahas Angula.
He said this at the launch of Debmarine’s new logo and identity on Wednesday.
He said: “The partnership between De Beers and government is part of the struggle to ensure that there is meaningful exploitation of resources for the benefit of our people. The Namibian people want to see that they at least have ownership of their natural resources. I hope this will be a win-win relationship.”
Angula said when government made the decision in 2002 to migrate the company from South Africa to Namibia, many sceptics said it could not be done, however, the company has gone from strength to strength.
“In 2012, I believe this company will celebrate about 10 years of operating from Namibia, mining a Namibian resource and contributing to the growth and development of our country.
“Today, Debmarine is the largest producer of diamonds in the country, earning revenue that enables us to provide schools, hospitals, rural development and other essential services for our people. Mining is a strategic pillar of our economy. Diamond mining especially holds special significant role in the development of the international diamond industry,” Angula said.
He added that the company’s marine mining technology is unrivalled in the world and that Namibia is the only country in the world to successfully mine for diamonds from the ocean floor.
Despite its achievements, the company had to lay off close to 30% of its employees in the wake of the global economic crisis and one of its vessels is still in lay off, Isak Katali, Minister of Mines and Energy said at the launch.
The Prime Minister called on the industry to add more value to diamonds.
“Are we doing enough to add value to our resources before they leave our shores? I am aware that since the establishment of the Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC), we have had a number of cutting and polishing factories open their doors in Namibia. This enables us to create much needed employment and further activity in the diamond industry. Once again, my question to the leadership of the diamond industry is – are we doing enough?,” Angula asked.
Before the signing of the new partnership agreement, government held a 30% stake in Debmarine while De Beers had the majority shareholding (70%). Following years of negotiations, De Beers and government eventually signed an agreement in May this year to re-arrange the shareholding structure of the company to 50/50 shares each. The agreement was signed on 18 May.