Why don’t we see diamonds in the street when we have plenty but every grape harvest everyone benefits?
A young dude heard me and he asked if he could join my friend and I.
He asked if I am an economist and rightly said no, but a guy who read wildly on economic matters and observes economic operations.
The young man said he just finished his grade 11 AS with three A’s, which is quite impressive.
He said he wanted to meet the minister of mines, Tom Alweendo to ask him: if the country has plenty of diamonds and grapes, why do our people only participate in grape trading and not in diamonds?
He says he never even saw one diamond even on display despite Namibia bragging about its diamond endowment.
“So, who then participates in this diamond trading, and who gets the money”, the young man quizzed with a curious face.
At this point, I wanted to call Namdia, NDTC and the Chamber of Mines plus Tate Alweendo to answer this young man.
This young man was looking at me and there was no time to google, again such answers are not online.
However, I started to attempt to answer the question.
You see, many of us made money from importing grapes from the south, paying cold trucks to deliver to Katima Mulilo, Opuwo, and Bethanie.
The commodity grape itself stimulated the economy but, more importantly, it benefitted Namibians directly and this is not about employment at the farms, no.
Rather, it is the way Namibians can buy the grapes for consumption or to sell around and earn income for themselves.
I want to repeat this, the benefit of grapes to this country is not just about employment creation at the farms/vineyards and taxes to the government, but people have access to this precious commodity for their economic activities.
Grape-production/harvest led to a fall in fruit inflation, with grapes experiencing a price decline of 10.7% for November 2022 due to a good harvest-the highest fall in prices in all food products observed.
Also, it shows how increased local agri-production can fight inflation.
The case of grapes is a classical one that challenges us on how people can benefit from their resources beyond employment and taxes.
Now back to diamonds. Where are they, who trade them, and why don’t we/the masses get to see them and get involved in their trading just like grapes?
More importantly, how are Namibians benefiting beyond employment and taxes?
Why is diamond trading centred on certain entities? How many local entities do Namdia and NDTC sell the rough diamonds to?
Secondly, after polishing them, how many Namibian companies are involved again?
Also, why don’t we polish all of them here? Why do we send them to Botswana?
Yes, the experts will jump in and say why are you comparing two different products. But the point is here, we all have them (grapes and diamonds) in plenty.
The other one involves more Namibians and is even a seasonal product but we extract diamonds at the bed of our sea all day, so why is it hard to see a diamond exchanging hands?
Mind you, fresh grapes alone bring in roughly a billion a year and if you add the dried one the country gets more in its export.
Furthermore, local sales generate so much revenue for vendors.
It’s not only diamonds but various minerals that do not involve many Namibians, beyond extracting and handling at the ports.
Did we intentionally limit ourselves (by system and education) to just handling tomatoes, grapes, and onions among ourselves and adding value to them, or what is going on?
Namibians including me won’t see what uranium and diamonds look like because what will we do with it anyway.
However, we will get to see uranium if we develop our reactors because it won’t be shipped anymore but will be kept here to fuel our reactors.
Otherwise, even the green hydrogen which is planned will be a phantom to many just like a diamond is- extract and ship it out.
It is now our responsibility to change the course of our economic path and history, a portion of our diamond should stay here and be converted into something being demanded by the market.
Reserving 15% for Namdia to sell them again doesn’t cut it for me and for this young man, because he wants more local involvement in all our resources. Email: email@example.com