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Namibians rise from miners to crafters in booming diamond industry

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- Diamonds have played an important role in Namibia’s history, and after 27 years of independence, the country has regained control of this natural resource and included many disadvantaged young Namibians in the beneficiation process.

There are young Namibians who are today doing the cutting and polishing of diamonds, with many able to do the diamond processing planning, which requires high-level skills but generate more values.

One such individual is 31-year-old Saviour Kaunda who has been part of the industry for the past ten years, where he started off as a diamond polisher and has since risen against all odds to become the first diamond marker in the country.

“Before, I was struggling to even pay rent, and I was living with my aunt, but I focused on my work and now I stay on my own and I am paying for my brother, who is at university. I am also looking after my two boys,” Kaunda said proudly.

The young man is now able to work on a diamond from its rough to the polished state, a skill that takes many years to perfect with some never actually getting there.

Kaunda is among over 100 previously disadvantaged Namibians, who have carved out a niche for themselves, while working at a manufacturing company in the capital Windhoek.

“My inspiration is that I want this industry to support each and every Namibian ... I would like to see my fellow Namibians involved in the diamond industry. For me it has changed my life, both financially and educationally,” Kaunda said.

“In future I would like to manage a factory, where I can buy stones, plan and train other Namibians in this industry,” he said.

Before independence, and during the first few years afterwards, the diamond industry in Namibia was saturated with expatriates while black people had been excluded from positions of substance in the lucrative diamond industry. 

Back then, only local whites and foreigners had sufficient skills or knowledge to be at the upper ladder of this wealth-bringing, complicated and delicate industry, while blacks were restricted to more dangerous and back-breaking, pick-and-shovel mining jobs. 

Things began to change only when the Namibian government after independence prioritized the “Namibianisation” of all aspects of the diamond trade.

Over the years, the rise of more Namibians in the trade aligned well with the mandate of Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) for Namibia to benefit directly from the diamond trade, rather than sending rough diamonds abroad for value-addition and having foreigners control all of the technical knowledge related to the field.

The older generation did not live to see the full benefits from the diamonds they discovered, but the Namibian nation of today is rising to see the shining side of the mineral.



Namibian president highlights poverty reduction

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- Namibia’s President Hage Geingob said Tuesday that poverty had continued to wreak havoc in Namibia.

Speaking at the country’s independence celebrations in Rundu town, northeast Namibia, Geingob said his government would concentrate on fulfilling the needs of underprivileged and vulnerable groups by bringing relief through the existing and new social relief programs.

The Namibian government has increased the old age grant from 1,100 Namibian dollars (87 U.S. dollars) to 1,200 Namibian dollars this year, an amount which has doubled from 600 Namibian dollars in 2014.

“This initiative has made meaningful impact in reducing poverty levels, not only amongst out senior citizens, but our children as well, since many of our children are under care of senior citizens,” he said.

The government is also exploring measures to accelerate industrialization and job creation, as well as rolling out the food bank program.

According a report titled “Namibia Poverty Mapping”, released in 2015, Namibia registered a general decline in the incidence of poverty of 11 percentage points over the 2001-2011 period, with national incidence of poverty declining from 37.9 percent to 26.9 percent over this period.

The report stated that an estimated 568,418 people are said to be poor. This indicates 125,277 fewer people living in poverty at the end of this 10-year period than would have been the case if the poverty rate had remained unchanged.


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