Expanding the scope of the Kimberley Process (KP) to include issues related to human rights and labour relations, as is being advocated by the World Diamond Council (WDC), will help create conditions in which Sub-Saharan Africa's artisanal diamond miners can meet their economic potential, and so support the development of their countries' economies, says WDC executive director Marie-Chantal Kaninda.
In delivering the opening address at the sixth forum of the Africa-Belgium Business Week meeting on Wednesday, she referenced the peace agreement signed in February by the Central African Republic (CAR) government and 14 rebel groups, which was aimed at ending the country’s seven-year civil war.
She expressed the WDC’s optimism that the end of the conflict would precipitate better prospects for the African nation and said that “[WDC] believes that through the implementation of the peace process, the CAR will be able to resume the unrestricted export of rough diamonds, supported by the KP Certification System, and . . . help turn the CAR resolutely towards its development”.
Although the CAR remains under KP suspension, with diamond exports forbidden from areas falling outside of the so-called green zones in the western part of the country, from which diamond exports are approved monthly by a monitoring team, its government has been working closely with the KP to enable the sale of artisanally mined alluvial diamonds.
The WDC strongly advocated that the CAR and other countries where artisanal diamond mining is prominent enjoy similar benefits from their production to those enjoyed by other African countries that have seen their economies and nations transformed by the proceeds from diamond sales.
Improving the living and working conditions of workers in the diamond mining industry, as well that of workers in other sectors, like agriculture and forestry, will have a positive impact on the communities that they support, Kaninda said.
"These are the developments that we would like the KP to support through the expansion of its scope," she noted.
". . . Africa needs to awaken, especially sub-Saharan Africa. When we talk about this great and beautiful continent, we still talk too often about violence, lack of democracy, poverty and corruption. These are evils and words that we would like to feel or hear no longer.
"When we talk about Africa we still refer too often to developmental aid. Yet we all know that real development comes through education, work and direct investment. It is time for sub-Saharan Africa to rise up and develop all its human, mining, agricultural and energy potential, to escape from its state of underdevelopment and enter a new era," Kaninda stressed.
The guests of honour at the forum were CAR President Faustin Archange Touadera and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.