Botswana wants to be a diamond cutting-and-polishing centre than Antwerp, Tel-Aviv and Mumbai, the President Festus Mogae has said in an interview.
Mogae said that for the first time, diamond cutting and diamond polishing were now taking place in Botswana.
He said that a total of 16 cutting-and-polishing houses had been licensed and six of them were already operational. The remaining ten would be operational in the next three years.
That is a very important and ambitious project. We aim to be a diamond centre no less than, and comparable to, Antwerp, Tel-Aviv and Mumbai, he said.
While Botswana was not asking the cutting-and-polishing houses to move their businesses to Botswana, it was requesting them to include Botswana as one of the world's major cutting and polishing centre.
The country was not even saying that they should cut and polish all the diamonds that Botswana sold to them in Botswana itself.
But what we are saying is that since they have facilities in New York, London, Antwerp, Mumbai, Thailand and so on, they should also have facilities here, the President said.
As a diamond-dependent economy, Botswana would be the last to do anything to disrupt the global diamond trade.
While the country cared about its own diamonds and its own diamond industry, it also cared about the international diamond industry.
"We work within the rules of the international community. That is why we are co-founders of the Kimberley Process," Mogae said following celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of Jwaneng Mine, the world's richest diamond mine.
Botswana accounts for some 25 percent of the $13.1-billion worth of rough diamonds produced each year and diamonds account for 70 percent of the country's export earnings.
Debswana, the 50/50 joint venture between the Botswana Government and De Beers, owns 15 percent of De Beers while Anglo American plc has a 45 percent interest.