Can The Trade Do the Right Thing in Angola?

There are reports that Angola is changing its marketing to induce more foreign investors to its diamond sector.

This could be a good move, but it’s also a pretty sad story. Angola is a major diamond producer that could some day, with further development, rival Botswana (when I was in Botswana, this was a real fear.) And yet its diamond resources seem to be handled haphazardly — one day one company is in charge, the next another, and now, who knows. 

The diamond industry’s record here is also pretty bad. There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that Angola’s diamond resources have led to any kind of sustained economic development, and there are reports of human rights abuses at its mines. (By contrast, its oil sector is booming.) And, of course, Angola was a “conflict diamond” country, with major members of the industry almost certainly complicit in keeping the war going beyond its expiration date.

We all know the problems in Africa – bad, corrupt government; difficult infrastructure; a poor, and therefore, easily bribe-able population. And yet, members of the industry can no longer use these as an excuse for just taking the money and running.

If the “Blood Diamond” brouhaha has done anything, it’s made the industry turn inward. This business has a great job in bringing economic development to Southern Africa (Botswana, in particular), and now it needs to replicate that elsewhere.  This trade should insist that whoever markets Angola’s diamonds in the future commits to making a real contribution to the country and its future. To have another success story to point to — in a former “conflict diamond” country, no less — will go a long way to restoring this trade’s battered image.

JCK News Director