Vetting delayed Namibia's diamond advisory board appointments

The Minister of Mines and Energy Tom Alweendo on Monday appointed a 12-member Namibia Diamond Advisory Board following a five-year leadership vacuum.

Alweendo attributed the delays to the vetting process.

The board is chaired by Erasmus Shivolo deputised by Maenge Shipiki Kali, while other members include Festus Nghifenwa, Pauline Thomas, Wollen Zuleika Nell, Benita Herma, Brent Eiseb, Nekulilo Ithete, Barthlomeus De Klerk, Emily Kapulwa, Desley Somseb and Isabella Chirchir.

 The purpose of the board is to advise the Minister on matters relating to the diamond industry.

 "The board has not been functional because vetting took long from the institutions where members are nominated. By the time the process is complete, you may find that the names that were nominated are no longer on the same list, so it changes, thus creating delays and needs to be redone for new nominations," Alweendo said.

 Alweendo tasked the new board to be hands-on by doing extensive research in order to stay abreast with what is happening within the industry. He therefore brought to the fore the advent of lab produced diamonds (also known as synthetic diamonds) that are infiltrating the market.

 "These will be some of the issues I expect the Board to pay attention to and advise on how best to proceed. As per the Diamond Act, you as Members have been nominated by various stakeholders, such as the producers, dealers, cutters and polishers.

 You are therefore experts in the industry and I hope that you will bring your expertise to bear and ensure that our diamond industry continues to be managed in the best manner possible," he stressed.

 Synthetic diamonds are artificially produced, and they look exactly like natural diamonds.

 "They are produced at lower cost and are likely to attract a segment of diamond consumers. If more and more people start to buying synthetic diamonds, natural diamond producing countries will lose the market and this will have a negative economic impact," said the Minister, while admitting that it is not possible to prevent the production of synthetic diamonds.

 "All one can do is to insist that they are not marketed as natural diamonds."

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