Namibia’s Diamond Trading CEO Shihaleni Ndjaba spoke to this publication in a wide-ranging interview in which he touched on developments in the local diamond industry. The Patriot brings Part II of the interview with the NDTC boss.
Would you say local skills are readily available when positions are advertised in the market? For the function that NDTC performs, those skills are not found in the market. However, to ensure NDTC staff have the relevant skills to perform and remain at the top of their game, we have our own training academy, which trains our own staff as well as key stakeholders in the diamond industry in the areas of sorting and evaluations. Previously, such training was offered by expats, however, over the years Namibians have been empowered to manage such training at NDTC and in some factories. At NDTC, each new recruit spends at least six to 12 months in the training academy before they are able to sort diamonds unsupervised or are permanently employed at NDTC. We are therefore very proud of the quality of training our academy offers, as these skills are not offered by other institutions in Namibia.
As far as training for cutting and polishing [is concerned], training takes place in the factories themselves underscoring the importance of the beneficiation programme. This programme encourages the promotion of job creation and skills development within the factories. As an organisation we do recognise that there is a need in the market to train such skills outside our operational structures and as such NDTC has commenced discussions with various relevant stakeholders on the building up of a formalised course that can be available on tertiary level.
What is your take on synthetic diamonds, is it a threat in our diamond market?
A synthetic diamond is a diamond produced in a laboratory. In the global arena, there are measures that are being put in place to protect the consumer from synthetic diamonds. There are synthetic detecting machines developed, especially by De Beers, [which are] accessible to the diamond industry [and are] used to detect synthetic diamonds in their trade. It is a big challenge and threat to those of us who are trading original diamonds.
Have we encountered incidences of synthetic diamond sales in Namibia?
Not really, the market of polished diamonds in Namibia is very low. Although we are encouraging manufacturers of polished diamonds in Namibia, we only so far enforce the conversion of rough [diamonds] to polished. Therefore, we have not encountered any sale of synthetic diamond because we are more of a rough market than a ‘polish’ market. Of course, we produce polished diamonds through the beneficiation programme but once we are done they are exported to international markets. I am saying [this] consciously optimistic because we just came out of the festive season for the diamond industry and much of the demands will be determined later depending on how the season goes.
What are the current economic threats to the diamond industry in Namibia and the world over?
The demand for rough diamonds is determined by the end-product, which is the diamond jewellery that then goes to the consumer. The bigger markets of the final products of the diamond jewellery consumption are the US, China and India. How the economies of those markets are doing then determines the behaviour of demand for rough diamonds.
How are the stock levels, are they okay?
Yes, all in all, on average we have not seen any trend where there is a threat to our diamond production. And, yes, it is dropping on one side (land production), but increasing or being stable on the marine side. On average, we are selling what we have been selling all along; therefore, we are doing okay.