Study Concludes Diamonds’ Role in African Progress is Mixed

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(Rapaport…March 18, 2002) Partnership Africa Canada released the results of a study on March 18 that investigated the extent to which positive claims about diamonds’ contribution to development in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana can be verified. The report, “Diamonds: Forever or for Good?” concludes that while the contribution is significant, it is also controversial and ambiguous.

Some of the positives mentioned in the report are employment in the region and taxation. However, the report goes on to say that while infrastructure and certain social services are better in the area, poverty levels in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa are as high as, or higher than, many other African countries without diamonds. In Botswana, for example, 60 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day, despite the country having the highest GNP per capita in Africa.

The report is critical of the Kimberley Process, stating that it has made too little progress, and it also bears much of the responsibility for the lack of meaningful social and economic development in South Africa and Namibia on De Beers.

“De Beers and Anglo American helped to perfect the contract labor system, participated in holding back social development, subjected labor to inhumane living conditions and undoubtedly participated in the purchase of conflict diamonds from Angola and elsewhere until the late 1990s,” the report states.

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