The Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) will by the end of this year call for the application of new Sightholders – the select group of diamond companies that would receive preference to buy Namibia’s rough diamonds in bulk.
NDTC, Chief Executive Officer, Shihaleni Ndjaba told The Villager that the three year supply contracts of the current ‘sight holders’ lapse at the end of March 2015 and that in preparation for the next round of the Sightholders Selection Process, the NDTC will be commencing with the process of reviewing the current selection criteria.
He revealed that each of the operations in the Sightholder Sales Network which comprises of NDTC, Sightholder Sales South Africa and Global Sightholder Sales, is currently preparing for the start of a new contractual period that will begin in March 2015.
According to the CEO, the NDTC will use a combination of criteria to ensure that its customer-base is financially and ethically robust as such, applicants will need to meet a set of financial and ethical compliance criteria, in order to be eligible for supply.
“There will also be a beneficiation criteria used in both the application and supply re-planning processes to ensure that NDTC’s customer base can support the delivery of key economic and social objectives in Namibia,” Ndjaba said.
The CEO further revealed that the NDTC has introduced a simpler applications process and introduced more flexibility in purchasing opportunities, such as when they become ‘Accredited Buyers.’ Applicants are set to become to qualify as ‘Accredited Buyers’, if they have been unable to demonstrate sufficient demand for NDTC rough diamonds in order to become NDTC Sightholders
In the new contract, any diamond business that meets (and continues to meet) the compliance criteria requirements will be eligible in principle for supply, even if they are unable to demonstrate sufficient demand to become Sightholders
This means that applicants will need to be financially strong and transparent, and ethically sound, but it introduces more opportunities for emerging or growing businesses to demonstrate demand for the rough we have available, and potentially to qualify as Sightholders in the future. As said earlier we will communicate the selection compliance criteria in due course
Locals not special
Ndjaba maintained that local entities that enters the race will not receive any special treatment and that thy will all be subjected to the compliance criteria requirements. As such, the selected sightholders will an outcome of the applications that the company receives and those applicants’ abilities to meet the financial, ethical and beneficiation compliance criteria requirements that the NDTC is adopting.
“These requirements are employed to ensure that NDTC’s customer-base is financially strong and transparent, and that it supports the development of the Namibian diamond sector. We would of course welcome applications from any Namibian diamond businesses that meet the compliance criteria requirements,” Ndjaba said.
The selection process, has in the past attracted criticism from both the unsuccessful diamond cutting firms in the country, as well as from government, which was unhappy with the successful diamond cutting firms. Government’s dissatisfaction emanated from allegations that, instead of cutting and polishing the diamonds locally as intended, shipped the quality rough gems outside Namibian borders, while cutting and polishing inferior gems from outside in Namibia. Ndjaba refused to be drawn in a conversation regarding these allegations maintaining that the import and export of diamonds is regulated by the regulator, the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
“However, there are also internal measures in place to monitor the actual movement of diamonds supplied which may impact future allocation levels. As part of criteria, we do take into account rough utilisation locally in our processes and this has a direct bearing on level of supply for NDTC Sightholders,” the CEO said.
The SoC and Nam
Meanwhile the CEO also commented De Beers’ Diamond Trading Company (DTC) for its Supplier of Choice (SoC) business strategy which he said has delivered a number of significant benefits to the diamond industry generally, and by extension for Namibian diamonds in particular.
The DTC’s SoC he said, has assisted in delivering increased investments in diamond marketing and the development of new diamond brands, as well as with creation of a more efficient supply chain and robust ethical standards for Sightholders
Said Ndjaba; “We believe this is the most value-adding channel for Namibian diamonds to be sold and we are proud of the contributions that NDTC has made and continues to make to Namibia and its economy.”
He added that the; “SoC through its Best Practice Principles has brought transparency and differentiation to the diamond industry, and this has helped create demand for polished diamonds downstream.”