A new $83m diamond processing plant, The Diamond Trading Company, has opened in Botswana, creating 3000 jobs. It is also expected that this plant will create further jobs in the finance, security and telecommunications sectors. BBC reports that this plant, which is jointly owned by the government and diamond giant De Beers, will become a processing centre for diamonds from De Beers mines worldwide.

Although this is an exciting development not only for Botswana but for the whole Sub-Saharan Africa, I think it was long overdue. Botswana, being the world’s largest producer of diamonds, should have had this facility from long time ago. The Botswana economy should have been much better than the way it is at the moment. The effects of their economic boom would have rippled to other countries in the sub region in a bigger way than at present. It is very sad to observe that other countries out there have been making huge economic gains behind the Batswanas’ backs all these years by processing their raw diamonds and selling the gems at high prices. This is a common problem on the African continent.

Many foreign firms are exploiting resource rich African countries by importing their raw stuff and selling processed products to the same countries at very high prices with very tough conditions. These foreign firms do not even care about the environmental degradation caused by mining and drilling operations in those countries. I feel for the people of oil rich Niger delta who do not really benefit from their God given natural resource. Instead, it is people from foreign lands who are benefiting from their oil riches.

African countries must stop giving exploitative firms mining and drilling rights on the African continent. Value adding operations must be taking place right here. If there is no proper deal, it would be better for the continent’s resources to remain unearthed other than selling them at give away prices at the expense of our environment while our masses still languish in poverty.