23 February 2005
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation has entered into a partnership with the SA government, Lazare Kaplan International Inc and Nozala Diamonds to provide finance for diamond and mining beneficiation projects in Angola, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic) is a US government agency that supports economic development by promoting US private investment in developing countries.
Lazare Kaplan International (LKI) is engaged in the cutting, polishing and sales of ideally proportioned diamonds internationally.
Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and the chairperson of Nozala Diamonds, Salukazi Dakile-Hlongwane, signed the agreement on behalf of South Africa this month.
LKI’s Maurice Tempelsman said the joint venture aimed “to encourage participation of empowerment groups and change some of the historical dynamics to make it possible, in a very concrete way, for African nations to ‘go downstream’.”
Mlambo-Ngcuka said there was “a serious problem in raising capital for beneficiation projects, and we are in a country where there has not been a history of aggressive value addition.
“To actually build the industry from scratch, we need these instruments to get started, to make sure that people who do not have a family tradition or old money also have a chance to begin.”
The minister said the fact that the fund anticipated an element of risk management was important, because it meant that it was “not naive about the challenges people [in the mining industry] face along the way”.
“On our side as government, through regulation, training, support and provision of infrastructure, we would want to be partners to make sure that we give optimum conditions for these initiatives.”