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Botswana Stands Up to G7, Rejects ‘Unfair Burden’ on Diamonds

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Botswana’s Bold Rejection of G7 Policy

In a jaw-dropping showdown that’s shaking up the diamond world, Botswana takes on the mighty G7 giants – and lands a thunderous first blow.

Igniting a battle over diamonds that’s got the globe buzzing, Botswana’s bold rejection of the G7’s “Unfair Burden” Diamond Certification Policy has everyone on the edge of their seats.

With billions at stake and the fate of an entire industry hanging in the balance, President Mokgweetsi Masisi leads the charge. He rallies his nation to stare down the world’s richest countries with a fiery spirit of independence that refuses to back down.

Against all odds, this nation stands tall to defy the powers that be. Botswana rejects the G7’s attempt to control its diamond destiny from half a world away in Europe.

For decades Botswana relied on diamond wealth to lift its people out of poverty and take its place among nations. Now the G7 threatens this hard-won progress by imposing outside domination.

But Botswana will not kneel before such arrogant demands. With its economy and national pride on the line, this small country is heroically resisting Goliath.

Now the question on everyone’s mind is: will Botswana emerge victorious and pave a path for African economic independence?

Botswana Leads African Resistance to G7’s Diamond Certification Scheme

Botswana is boldly standing up to G7, rejecting its ‘Unfair Burden’ Diamond Certification Policy. The government of Botswana made headlines by demanding the G7 nations immediately reverse their new policy requiring all diamonds to be sent to Belgium for certification before entering G7 markets.

For decades, Botswana has relied on diamonds to transform itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to an upper middle income nation. Diamonds account for over 70% of Botswana’s export earnings and one third of government revenue. The diamond industry provides livelihoods for tens of thousands of citizens.

Yet a dark cloud looms over Botswana’s diamond sector. New regulations imposed by Western powers threaten to undermine this vital industry.

The G7 nations – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – introduced strict controls on the import of diamonds. Any diamond entering these countries must first be sent to Antwerp, Belgium to verify its origin. The aim is to prevent Russian diamonds from entering their markets in response to the Ukraine conflict.

While the G7’s motives are presented as targeting Russia, the impact falls heavily on African nations like Botswana. Diamonds from Botswana must now make an unnecessary detour to Belgium before reaching clients, adding costs, delays and risks.

Botswana’s president Mokgweetsi Masisi has been outspoken in his criticism of the G7 policy. He laments the lack of consultation with African producers beforehand. Botswana already has advanced internal controls to verify diamonds mined within its borders. This extra layer of external scrutiny undermines trust in Botswana’s own institutions.

For President Masisi, the G7 policy harkens back to colonial times when Africa’s resources were controlled from afar and its people treated as second class. As he defiantly declares, “We cannot agree to an attempt to undermine our quest for development by taking charge and responsibility of our own resources.”

Botswana is not alone in speaking out against the G7’s burdensome diamond certification policy. Its neighbors Namibia and Angola stand in solidarity with Botswana.

As President Masisi revealed, these three leading African diamond producers co-authored a letter demanding the G7 reverse the mandatory certification scheme. While Botswana took the lead, Namibia and Angola signed on as co-signatories after providing input.

United in their opposition, these nations collectively account for a major share of Africa’s diamond production. Diamonds provide crucial revenue for their development goals.

Like Botswana, Namibia and Angola stress the lack of consultation with African producers before the G7 made this decision affecting their key industry.

Namibia’s Minister of Mines and Energy Tom Alweendo argued that the G7 sanctions on Russian diamonds would have negative economic impacts on African diamond exporting countries like Namibia. He called for the G7 to review the restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Angolan Ministry of Mineral Resources and Petroleum echoed the need for engagement with African nations rather than imposing unilateral rules.

This show of unity against the G7’s policy reinforces Botswana’s message. African nations are speaking with one voice in demanding fairness and objecting the unilateral control over their resources.

But the injury cuts deeper because the mechanism championed by the G7 – The Kimberley Process – was designed specifically to stop trade in conflict diamonds while enabling legitimate producers like those in Africa to prosper. By sidestepping this agreed process, the G7 policy implies African countries cannot be trusted.

Meanwhile, the Belgium city of Antwerp laughs all the way to the bank. Antwerp is already the dominant hub for the global diamond trade. Now the G7 hands them even greater control as the sole checkpoint for diamonds entering leading consumer markets.

This reveals the G7’s true motives – to maintain the centuries-old cartel grip over the diamond industry centered in Antwerp. Rather than targeting Russia, the real aim is to funnel more diamonds through old Belgian networks.

This breeds distrust. Are Western powers deliberately undermining African diamond producers to protect established interests in Europe? It smacks of the same old exploitation African nations have suffered for generations.

Botswana, the African nation already defying the west by strongly resisting its harmful policies, should respond by bypassing Antwerp altogether. It would be better off if it cooperates directly with major powers like China or Russia that do not impose these stringent certifications.

This potential “South-South” cooperation in diamonds will empower African mining nations by reducing reliance on Western markets. If Europe wants Africa’s diamonds, they must treat African producers as partners, not colonial subjects.

Botswana Warns of Economic Harm

Beyond the indignity of the diamond-tracking system, the G7 policy threatens real economic harm because the diamond industry is absolutely vital to Botswana’s economy and livelihoods. As economist Keith Jefferis notes, diamond mining accounts for 20% of Botswana’s GDP. Meanwhile, diamond cutting, polishing and trading make up around 5% of GDP.

With diamonds so crucial, any disruptions to this sector reverberate across the economy. Finance Minister Peggy Serame warned of this risk in her recent budget speech.

Found in Botswana, the Lesedi la Rona diamond is up for auction and valued at $70 million.

Botswana’s economy grew just 3.2% in 2023, down from 5.5% the prior year. Serame blamed this slowdown mainly on weaker performance in diamond trading and mining.

She projects a rebound to 4.2% growth for 2024. However, Serame cautioned the G7 diamond certification policy poses a major threat to this recovery.

By forcing Botswana’s diamonds to sit idle in Belgium for certification, the G7 adds substantial costs and delays. Not only are storage fees accruing, but mountains of paperwork must be processed. Transport expenses are higher with this unnecessary detour.

While the G7 defends its actions as targeting Russia, others question whether ulterior motives are also at play. Sanctioning Russian gems only blocks a small fraction of supply, as Russia produces less than 30% of the world’s diamonds. Yet the G7 policy burdens the entire global industry.

The real goal is to prop up the centuries old cartel that controls Belgium’s diamond industry. They point to sluggish sales on Antwerp’s diamond exchange in recent years.

And Africans are tired of being treated as pawns in games between global powers. As Masisi argues, “They were essentially regulating our industry completely without our participation. You can’t do this without engaging us, particularly Botswana.”

Where is the spirit of partnership or mutual respect? The legacy of extraction and exploitation remains. Africa’s voice is drowned out by wealthy nations claiming to know what’s best.

Africans favor collaborative solutions built on trust, not strong-arm tactics bred of suspicion. If concerns exist around specific producers, these should be addressed constructively through the Kimberley Process.

Blanket measures that paint all with the same brush reveal the deep flaws in the G7’s perspective. To lump Botswana’s gems together with those from Russia at the other end of the globe demonstrates startling ignorance of African realities.

For decades, Botswana has been praised as a model for transparent and ethical mining practices. Now it seemingly counts for nothing. The patronizing gestures towards engagement are mere window dressing. The policy was decided in advance, African opinions be damned.

This slightly hardens attitudes across the continent. Africans have seen this story before. Outsiders come waving noble principles but wielding sticks to impose their will. It breeds resentment and resistance.

President Masisi and other African leaders do not oppose regulation or verification of diamond supply chains. They simply demand to be treated as equal partners, not children to be scolded and controlled. Is this basic dignity too much to ask?

The path forward is clear. The G7 should immediately suspend the mandatory certification scheme and open constructive talks with African producers on alternatives that don’t unfairly burden them.

The Kimberley Process offers a mechanism for joint action to uphold ethical standards. But this time Africa will stand firm and not accept token roles. Any solution must give African countries an equal seat at the table.

This saga exposes the persisting arrogance of Western powers. But it also reveals an Africa that is speaking out and standing tall. Botswana does not beg or bow down before arrogant demands, even from richer nations. They know their worth and will not yield it easily.

Africa has come too far to turn back now. Their diamonds represent independence, sovereignty and dignity. No foreign power can be allowed to seize control of the continent’s precious stones. They must remain in African hands.

The people of Botswana and Africa look ahead, determined to forge their own destiny and stand up for the west that wants to go on with past practices of exploiting diamonds for their own benefit and to achieve their political agendas.

The winds of change begin to stir across this ancient land. Africa’s time has come. Its riches will fuel development on its own terms. No longer will they settle for breadcrumbs from the table of former colonizers. A new Africa is rising.

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