Windhoek: Following a devastating year, the diamond market experienced during 2015, last year showed a significant improvement, Sihaleni Ndjaba, the chief executive officer of Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC), said on Thursday.
Moreover, he said during a meeting with reporters in Windhoek, a similar trend to 2016 is expected this year. “It is looking very healthy with a high demand.”
Brent Eiseb, NDTC’s sales and marketing manager, said 2015’s gloom was the result of “pipeline, value chain issues”. As a result, he said, “a lot of our customers saw their inventory swelling”.
According to Eiseb, this meant that customers were not purchasing rough diamonds as regularly from NDTC as they had excess stock.
The following year – 2016 – was characterised by a surge in demand, Eiseb said. “In 2016, we saw a lot more stability coming through, both in terms of rough and polished diamonds. It was a record year in terms of beneficiation sales.”
Eiseb concurred with Ndjaba about the current year. “We expect 2017 also to be a stable year in terms of demand.”
The impact of international economies on the diamond market is key as they are the purchasers of especially diamond jewellery, Eiseb said.
As it is, one will have to see how the change in the United States administration plays out, he said. This market represents between 40 and 45% of the total demand. Since the 2015 decline, this market had picked up by 4%, he said.
China, he said, has shown positive developments while challenges in India persist. They are also keeping an eye on developments in Japan.
According to Ndjaba, the diamond industry currently employs slightly over 700 people.
He conceded that although there are positive developments in diamonds, it remains a “tricky” industry. “It is going on. There are challenges. It is not a smooth industry.”
Barely a few weeks ago, the minister of mines and energy, Obeth Kandjoze, warned that diamond companies who continue undermining government’s beneficiation efforts will face the full wrath of the law.
Laying into traders in the diamond industry during an address in the capital, Kandjoze said it has come to light that a mere “20% of the total beneficiation sales made by NDTC during 2016 was processed locally. I would like to make it categorically clear that the current trend of high rough exports is of grave concern to the ministry and the government.”
Kandjoze said as much as his ministry and government are mindful that a flexible business environment allows the diamond industry to manage their Namibian affairs in a sustainable manner, “the practice of exporting in some cases 100% of the rough diamonds meant for beneficiation purposes is in our view totally against the spirit of beneficiation and I would like to put it on record that we condemn the continuation of this practice in the strongest terms,” the minister said.
According to him, “it is our belief that the continued mass exports of rough diamonds sold for the purposes of beneficiation is not only a loss to Namibia, but, more importantly, totally undermines the concerted efforts government is making to eradicate poverty, unemployment and improve the lives of ordinary Namibian citizens.”