- HB wants to create 450 jobs in Botswana
Government has set aside P890 million to buy shares in Belgian diamond trader HB Antwerp, according to estimates of the budget expenditure.
This comes after President Mokgweetsi Masisi said last year during that SONA that his government is yet to finalize a deal with HB in which Botswana will acquire 24 percent of the company.
Without going into details, Minister of Finance Peggy Serame said during the budget speech that a significant provision for the acquisition of strategic assets which include a stake in Tati land.
HB Antwerp set up in Botswana as HB Botswana In March 2023, the company’s first branch outside Antwerp. The company’s spokesperson told this publication that 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,” Communications Manager at HB Botswana, Omogolo Mathumo said.
There has been criticism about the government investing in a new company in the Botswana diamond industry.
Mathumo said 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, he said they have collaborated with Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) through a Memorandum of Understanding, enabling them 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, according to Mathumo 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 programmes 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.”
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.
The company said 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.”
Mathumo also mentioned knowledge transfer. He said 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.”
“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.”
Mathumo also said 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.