source: Republic of Botswana (21/5/10) TAUTONA TIMES for May 2010
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery"
B3) 7/5/10: INAUGURATION OF SHRENUJ BOTSWANA (PTY) LTD BY HIS EXCELLENCY LIEUTENANT GENERAL SERETSE KHAMA IAN KHAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA:
[Salutations]...Ladies and Gentlemen
1. I am delighted that we are all gathered here to celebrate yet another milestone in Botswana's diamonds journey; a journey that started about 65 years ago with the discovery of two diamonds along the Motloutse river. That discovery was subsequently followed by the memorable discovery of Orapa in the 1960s. While some might say the rest is history, I hold the view that the story of Botswana's diamonds is still unfolding and in the process presenting opportunities for us and the like minded to not only shape the future of this country but the diamond industry as well. It is thus pleasing for me and my government to see companies like Shrenuj joining us in our journey. A journey that has entered the crucial phase of transforming Botswana from being not only a leading diamond mining producer, but a world class diamond centre with all the components of the diamond pipeline taking place here.
2. The evolution of the diamond cutting and polishing industry started in the early 80s with one factory. Following the policy initiative of encouraging downstream diamond industries in Botswana or diamond beneficiation in 2004, sixteen diamond cutting factories have been established. Government entered into suite of agreements with De Beers that had provisions for supporting beneficiation through local supply of rough diamond.
3. The Government established a Diamond Hub in 2008 to provide an environment for efficient diamond sector operation and to spearhead activities of the diamond pipeline with a view to transforming Botswana into a fully integrated world Diamond Centre. The Diamond Hub is expected to act as a one-stop-shop for handling all requirements of downstream industry participants, creating a conducive environment for companies to do business in Botswana by minimising red tape, speeding up processes, responding to industry issues and providing leadership where necessary to facilitate development of the industry.
4. It is pleasing to note that the diamond industry survived the recent recession even though the impact was bad in 2009. Tremendous progress in employment and utilization of rough supply that was registered up to 2008 was negated when employment fell from 3200 in 2008 to 2300 in 2009 while utilization fell from 87% to 77%. Currently employment stands at 2572.
5. Shrenuj's operation resonates well with our ambition. The inauguration of the Shrenuj facility marks yet another milestone in our continuing efforts towards diversifying our economy. The company has been operating in Botswana in the last 9 months after taking over from DDA, who struggled due to the global financial Crisis. I wish to commend the Shrenuj Group for the positive progress made in the operation of this factory and for choosing to make Botswana part of their group at a time when the diamond industry was in turmoil. In celebrating this successful operation, we need to take stock and look at the challenges encountered during the past year and use the learning to move forward.
6. I believe that the Shrenuj Group's involvement in the gem and jewellery business in the last 102 years and operating in 13 countries around the world is testimony to their delivery of a product that wets the appetite of the market.
7. I am informed that the Shrenuj Group's employs 155 employees, 30 percent of who are hearing impaired. This answers the Vision 2016 pillar of a Compassionate, Just and Caring Nation. It is pleasing to realize that your operation has really worked hard to contribute to the achievement of that goal. Career opportunities for the hearing impaired are limited. It is hence encouraging to have a company like yours making a deliberate effort to improve the lives of those with such a disadvantage. I encourage other companies to follow your example so that Botswana can be a better place for all sections of our communities. Your success in this effort will no doubt assist in the achievement of the other Vision 2016 pillars. All these can only make our democracy, one to be proud of.
8. I am also happy to learn that sometime this year you will pioneer the establishment of the first fully fledged jewellery manufacturing factory in Botswana. I encourage you to stay focused on that as this goes a long way to show that these things are possible. By that you are unlocking Botswana's path to diversify in the diamond industry. I assure you of our support in your noble business pursuit to together address the obstacles that usually come with a pioneer venture.
9. With a diverse business scope from cutting and polishing, jewellery manufacturing and retail, Shrenuj Group possesses attributes that will contribute to the growth of Botswana's economy. It is for this reason and the fact that Botswana is endowed with mineral resources, that we will do all to ensure a long term partnership with yourselves and other well performing Sight holders.
10. In conclusion I want to reassure you of my Government's commitment to provide an investor friendly environment, as it is through investment similar to which Shrenuj has made that the welfare of Batswana can be greatly improved.