Botswana has taken a bold step towards developing its local diamond polishing and cutting capacity, after securing a loan of $125-million from US overseas development financier, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).
Guaranteed by the US government and to be disbursed by Standard Bank Botswana, the loan will be channelled towards enabling local cutting and polishing companies to be involved in gem sorting, marketing and manufacturing functions.
OPIC has signed the loan guarantee with Barclays Bank of Botswana, together with Lazare Kaplan International (LKI), acting through its subsidiary Botswana Finance LLC.
The $125-million disbursement is the first part of the $250-million package which OPIC has earmarked for the beneficiation of Botswana’s diamond mining.
In a statement, hailing the development, OPIC says: “Such support will help diversify the mining-based economy and develop the country’s financial sector given the critical economic role played by the diamond industry.
On his company’s behalf, LKI President, Leon Tempelsman, says the tripartite funding initiative will directly support constructive economic growth in Botswana.
Botswana’s diamond beneficiation industry has not taken off as initially envisaged when the project was mooted almost ten years ago, due to skills limitations. Overseas countries, like India, still have got a huge competitive advantages over the country and are the preferred destination of diamond polishing and cutting.
Information credits: African News Agency