Okavango Diamond Company (ODC), the wholly Botswana Government-owned rough diamond trader has just completed a successful week in Dubai as part of the EXPO 2020 Dubai – Botswana delegation. The week included a viewing of some of Botswana’s natural diamonds at the Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE) which is part of the Dubai Multi Commodities Exchange (DMCC). ODC’s week in Dubai was part of the October “Mining Month” theme and activities facilitated by Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) under the EXPO Dubai 2020 banner in the Botswana Pavilion. As the country’s lead investment promotion agency and coordinator for Botswana’s participation at the world-acclaimed EXPO 2020 Dubai, BITC believed that the event would help promote and position Botswana as an ideal investment and trade destination.
ODC facilitated several activities during this month of October, the first of which was a networking event graced by the Honourable Lefoko Maxwell Moagi, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security, and Mr. Keletsositse Olebile, CEO of Botswana Investment and Trade Centre. This event was hosted by the DMCC, through its Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DMCC, Ahmed Bin Sulayem, to welcome Okavango Diamond Company, to the DubaiHYPERLINK “https://www.linkedin.com/feed/hashtag/?
During the event, Honourable Lefoko Moagi expressed his gratitude for the support in building relationships to further diamond trade between Botswana and the world through Dubai. The event was attended by well over 50 company presidents, CEOs, General Managers, Managing Directors, Sales Directors who warmly welcomed ODC and the Botswana delegation to the Dubai Diamond Community. The relationship between ODC and the DMCC/DDE is expected to add value to the emerging phase of Botswana’s diamond industry. ODC is expected to leverage on Dubai’s diamond gateway to bring many industry players who may not necessarily be able to travel to Botswana regularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to participate in its online auction diamond sales wherever they are, in any part of the world.
The highlight of the trip was the inaugural ODC viewing at the Dubai Diamond Exchange from 13th to 15th October 2021. The viewing had more than 650,000 carats of special stones available for viewing and all the viewing rooms were fully booked. ODC defines special stones as diamonds that weigh at least 9.8 carats and are of gem or near gem quality. All the customers were registered ODC customers as per ODC’s existing viewing rules. These goods will be available for viewing in Antwerp from 18th to 22nd October before returning to Botswana where they will be sold on 1st November 2021.
ODC’s go-to-market strategy includes having a dedicated sales team that manages the relationship with ODC clients directly and hosting dual viewings for some of their 10 auctions per year. The dual viewings are hosted in Gaborone and other leading diamond trading centres such as Antwerp, Mumbai, and Tel Aviv. The dual viewings are facilitated by ODC staff. Due to the shifts in global travel caused by COVID-19, ODC held viewings in Antwerp and Gaborone only during 2020 and 2021. The Antwerp viewings were facilitated by Bonas, a leading diamond broker with offices in both Antwerp and Gaborone.
The diamond market experienced a recovery in 2020 which went into 2021. This along with the increased production from Debswana lead to ODC management choosing to host three specials-only sales in 2021. The viewing in Dubai was for the benefit of those that will participate in the specials-only auction that will take place in Botswana in November.
ODC sells its goods via an online auction, the company held its October Sale auction on the 13th of October 2021. The auction was a success as it netted over US$110m for ODC. ODC is currently in the no.1 spot for holding the largest by sales value of one day auction for rough diamonds
The week in Dubai was a success for ODC and is well aligned with its Managing Director Mr. Mmetla Masire’s words that “ODC’s strategic vision is to be a world leader in the sales and marketing of natural diamonds and the DDE offers ODC this gateway. As a government entity that exists to maximise shareholder benefits from the diamond industry by providing a commercial and sustainable route to market for natural diamonds, with unrivalled customer experience, we are more than excited to partner with a like-minded organisation.”
In the past 18 months, ODC has proven to be an agile organisation that can pivot in line with prevailing operating conditions. The impact of COVID-19 on the whole world and the operations of the global diamond market couldn’t have been foreseen and yet ODC has managed to not only succeed but to thrive with record sales volumes. The week in Dubai is, hopefully, the beginning of a new direction in ODC’s quest to be a leader in rough diamond trading.
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