Diamonds Nam's best friend

2004-11-12 15:18

Windhoek - Namibia's diamond industry, the sixth-largest in the world, will remain the backbone of the southern African country's economy for years to come, but the government is looking at other options to pry itself from dependence on the mining sector.

Last year, Namibia produced around 1.46 million carats of the precious stone, bringing in some US$450m that accounts for 40% of the gross domestic product.

"Diamond mining is still regarded as the backbone of the Namibian economy," said Klaus Schade, an economics researcher at the Windhoek-based Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit (Nepru).

"But the country is looking at various other options to diversify including further development of industries such as aquaculture within fishing and drawing more tourists towards the country," Schade told AFP.

With unemployment at between 30%-40%, job creation is one of the biggest issues as almost a million Namibian voters go to the polls on Monday and Tuesday for the country's fourth presidential and national elections.

Like other sectors, the mineral-rich country's diamond industry has been hit by a strengthening in the local currency, the Namibian dollar, which is pegged to its big brother, the South African rand, one of the strongest-rising currencies on world markets.

Jobs have also been slashed as Namibia's main diamond company, Namdeb, a joint venture between the Namibian government and diamond giant De Beers, moved their operations offshore into the cold Atlantic Ocean using machines to mine vast underwater diamond fields.

Job creation remains a challenge

"Twenty years ago, the sector provided some 20 000 jobs, but that has been reduced to around 6 000 in recent times," said Schade.

Despite the recent opening of a diamond polishing factory in Windhoek by the Israeli diamond tycoon Lev Leviev, creating jobs remains a challenge to the government led by the South West African People's Organisation (Swapo).

Leviev's factory represents the first real competition to Namdeb and is expected to create at least 1 000 new jobs.

Zinc production totalled around 150 000 tonnes this year at the new Skorpion mine in the south, while uranium also remains an important commodity, mined at the Rossing mine, near Swakopmund, about 350km west of Windhoek.

With a production of 698 tonnes in 2003 and 1 791 tonnes estimated for 2004, Namibia is the fourth largest uranium producer in the world after Australia, Canada and Kazakhstan.

Namibia's second largest sector, fishing has also been hit by the country's strengthening currency and low fish prices, especially in Europe.

Earlier this year, the fisheries ministry released a strategic plan to cultivate various forms of aquatic life off the coast in the rich Benguella Current, hoping that the industry will be self-sufficient by 2030.

Another sector with great potential is that of tourism, currently the country's third largest industry, said Schade, drawing mainly visitors from former colonial power Germany to experience its abundance of wildlife like elephant, lion, rhino and hippopotamus.

Another major drawcard is the vast Namib desert, which sports some of the highest sand dunes in the world and is revered for its desolate beauty.

Said Schade: "Unlike mining or fisheries, tourism is a non-depletable resource. Mines may run out of ore, fish stocks may disappear, but this country will still have its incredible scenic beauty."


Read News24’s Comments Policy


Inside News24


Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

DSTV Mobile iDrifta

The iDrifta is a plug and play mobile DVB-H receiver...

From R445.00

I'm shopping for:


You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.