Would a �cartel-lite� or ODEC for Diamonds work?


If HE President Khama’s recent state of the Nation address is anywhere near correct then diamond production in Botswana will continue at globally significant levels until at least 2050. Industry sources suggest that Botswana’s production at the main mines at Jwaneng and Orapa could, in theory, continue at similar levels to 2050 but this ultimately will depend on prices and the costs of extraction.

Given the P25 billion in expansion announced by Debswana in Maun last week costs of extraction will no doubt rise and while production may continue government revenues will surely decline. The obvious question is whether there is another  way that Botswana  and other diamond producing countries can delay the decline in revenue for at least a few more years.

According to the estimates presented by Dr Rob Davies from Zimbabwe recently at a conference in Gaborone there is scope for Botswana to  have a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with other major producers to  slow production of diamonds even further than has been the case. With diamonds as with other commodities the only problem in the market is to find a gentleman with whom you can have an agreement.  In what is probably the first public estimates ever it was found that a 1 percent increase in price of rough diamonds will only result in 0.45 percent decrease in demand for rough diamonds. Unsurprisingly Dr Davies results show  that the demand for rough diamonds is what economists call ‘inelastic’ i.e. unresponsive to changes in price. This means that it is possible to decrease production and simultaneously increase profits and government revenue at the same time because consumers will not stop buying. Dr Davies estimated that 25% decrease in production would eventually yield a 16% increase in government revenues. 

Editor's Comment
Has life become worthless?

As many wondered what wrong the young boy could have done to end up killed, it emerged that his own cousin was a suspect in the murder after he claimed P50,000 from Botswana Life. Thato Tsametse, who was last week sentenced to death for the murder of his cousin, had reportedly taken out two Mmoloki Funeral Covers valued at P25,000 each.Over the years, the media has been covering the murder case, and some revelation has come up that certain...

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