Q: Can you provide an overview of HB Antwerp Botswana and its role in the diamond industry?
A: HB is a mineral infrastructure company that firmly believes in the principle that minerals rightfully belong to their country of origin. With a strong focus on celebrating the provenance of minerals, HB ensures that these resources are transformed within their country of origin. Our primary objective is to guarantee that the African continent fully harnesses the advantages of its mineral resources to advance sustainable development and prosperity for its people.
HB is revolutionising the sourcing, transformation and distribution of minerals to pioneer an innovative approach to how extractive industries can impact communities for the better, starting with diamonds. This distinctive approach aims to usher in long-lasting positive change to the industry that will be guided by a philosophy rooted in excellence, fairness, honesty and maximisation of value for all stakeholders.
Q: What led to the establishment of HB Botswana in Botswana, and what advantages does the country offer for diamond trading?
A: HB is committed to countering the negative perception associated with diamonds in Africa. From the start, we aimed to challenge the common belief that diamonds from Africa are always connected to conflicts. To counter this perception, we focus on an African nation that could serve as an antidote to the negative stereotypes.
Botswana is known for its unwavering dedication to positive impact in the diamond sector, supported by its stable political climate and conducive business environment. The country’s commitment to maintaining a stable political landscape ensures a reliable and secure business environment and makes it the ideal partner for HB to pioneer our transformative model.
Q: The Government of Botswana wants to acquired an equity stake in HB Antwerp. Should this deal go through, how is it expected to contribute to the local economy and development of the diamond manufacturing industry in Botswana?
A: Botswana’s investment in HB Antwerp is expected to contribute to the local economy and development of the diamond manufacturing industry in Botswana by driving revenue growth, facilitating knowledge transfer, promoting job creation and enabling data sharing among stakeholders.
Increased revenue: It can lead to increased revenue for the government through improved pricing models and enhanced supply chain efficiency. By optimising the diamond manufacturing industry in Botswana, HB Antwerp can help generate more income for the country.
Knowledge transfer: The cutting-edge IP technologies that HB uses will play a role in facilitating knowledge transfer. This aligns with Botswana’s ambitions of establishing a knowledge-based economy as it promotes the sharing of expertise and technological advancements within the mineral industry. Job creation: The expansion of HB Antwerp’s operations in Botswana will positively affect job creation in the region. We are aiming to create well over 450 jobs in Botswana by 2026.
Data sharing: HB’s sophisticated ecosystem includes the HB Ledger, powered by Microsoft, which collects over 3,000 data points per diamond, ensuring transparency and accountability at every step of a diamond’s transformation. For the first time, the full data set is being shared with the Government of Botswana, allowing for informed decision-making and effective resource allocation.
Q: There has been criticism about the government investing in a new company in the Botswana diamond industry. What do you have say about that?
A: HB is creating an entirely new industry in Botswana. There are no benchmarks in terms of what the company is doing and how it is creating value. We are committed to engaging with the local workforce by creating employment opportunities and fostering skills development. As part of this initiative, we have collaborated with Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) through a Memorandum of Understanding, enabling us to identify and recruit some of the brightest young minds in the country.
These individuals, despite having limited or no previous work experience, have been given the opportunity to undergo comprehensive skills training facilitated by the HB Academy in Antwerp, Belgium. The primary objective of the HB Academy is to train and develop the local workforce in Botswana. However, our vision extends beyond the mineral industry.
We aim to incorporate additional areas such as entrepreneurship development, innovation and technology incubators. By diversifying the training programmess offered at the academy, we hope to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in various sectors. Our MoU with BIUST is not limited to mining.
Q: Can you share any notable success stories or achievements of HB Botswana since its establishment?
A: We launched HB Botswana in March with a facility groundbreaking closely modelled on our Antwerp operations. One of our greatest achievements to-date is staffing the facility with promising local workers, many of whom are graduates of the HB Innovation Lab and who have completed intensive training with master artisans at HB’s facility in Antwerp. We are proud to offer highly competitive salaries to all our employees, reflecting our values in treating people based on their skills and abilities and the investment that HB is committed to bringing to Botswana’s people and its economy.
Q: Can you provide insights into HB Antwerp Botswana’s plans and growth strategies in Botswana and beyond?
A: Our overarching goal as a company is to pioneer an entirely new approach to how extractive industries work with and for mineral-rich nations. We are always on the lookout for new opportunities to replicate our model and work with governments to bring greater shared economic development to a country’s communities and people. Our focus right now is Botswana.
Q: What message or impression would you like readers to take away about HB Antwerp Botswana and its contributions to the local diamond manufacturing industry?
A: For a long time, Botswana has been a country where diamonds are mined, then transported abroad for polishing and sale. HB is bringing the entire value chain to Botswana by training and hiring professionals skilled in not only polishing but also engineering, sales, marketing, finance and all other functions needed to take a diamond from the mine to a consumer. By conducting this entire process within Botswana, we hope to create professional advancement opportunities, stimulate the local economy and ensure that Botswana – and Batswana – gets the value it deserves from its natural resources.