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New tech, innovation to lift Botswana’s diamond sector

President Mokgweetsi Masisi at the opening ceremony of HB Botswana factory.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi at the opening ceremony of HB Botswana factory.

Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi has applauded the growing number of diamond cutting and polishing factories for adopting and employing new technologies.

The economy has 50 licenced diamond cutting and polishing companies, of which 48 are operating, with about 50% of the companies licensed during the 2021-2022.

Speaking at the factory opening for new entrant HB Botswana, a unit of HB Antwerp, Masisi said innovative solutions will bring about improvements in productivity and efficiency.

The president said Botswana is working on building capabilities across the entire diamond supply chain, so that the country can lead in transformation from rough stones to polished gems and to fine jewellery and ornaments.

“HB Antwerp is committed to bringing its suite of innovative and proprietary technologies to Botswana,” said Masisi, adding that the investors’ factory is a significant step in Botswana’s transformation into a diamond knowledge centre.

“HB Antwerp uses the most advanced, cutting-edge technology to analyse, measure, weigh, cut, and polish diamonds. It has developed an outstanding in-house research and development facility to solve complex technical challenges, and every step of the intricate production process, from mine to the end consumer, is meticulously recorded in a secure blockchain ledger so that the journey of each diamond is auditable and traceable. Now, we have these same capabilities through HB Botswana,” said Masisi.

The President added that for many years, Botswana’s mining workforce was only able to develop skill sets in areas related to mining and were not empowered to participate in analysis, cutting and polishing, marketing, and selling of the stones.

Some of the technology Botswana expects to gain include the digitally secured diamond vault for individual stones, claiming the device ensures origin verification and protects goods from tampering, launched by HB Antwerp last year.

Opening the factory with 30 employees, HB Botswana has imparted specialised technical training on the workers through the HB Innovation Lab, a training program led by HB Antwerp in partnership with WomHub, a Pan-African incubator for innovation.

Commenting high technology expectations that come with the opening of the new factory, Rafael Papismedov, co-founder of HB said the company’s Botswana is not a midway station.

“It is a complete, end-to-end, freestanding operation composed of the people of Botswana, transforming Botswana’s diamonds, using our proprietary technology that will be developed here, in our own Botswana research and development centre.

“We are not here to nibble around the edges. We are all in,” said Papismedov.

He said Batswana will be scanning, analysing, planning, and collecting data, transforming, and marketing, branding and selling Batswana diamonds, through applying high-value commercial skills to the diamonds that belong to them.

“Botswana will be involved in the development of every new technology – IP and digital tools,” he added

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