Of all the countries blessed with diamond deposits, the landlocked African nation of Botswana, which borders on Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, is the most blessed. As one of the world’s top producers of gem quality diamonds in terms of carat weight and value, Botswana has skillfully used its diamond wealth over the past 45 years to enhance health, education and environmental welfare more than any other diamond producing nation. In Botswana, government, private sector businesses, non-profit organizations and educators collaborate with the diamond industry to continuously create and enhance life-changing educational opportunities to the country’s youth.
“Through ethical leadership and wise management of Botswana’s diamond resources, the nation has thrived politically and economically as the oldest democracy in Africa with one of the region’s fastest growing economies,”
“Through ethical leadership and wise management of Botswana’s diamond resources, the nation has thrived politically and economically as the oldest democracy in Africa with one of the region’s fastest growing economies,” notes Nancy Orem Lyman, Executive Director and Vice-President of the non-profit Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F.). “By helping provide citizens with broad based access to education, healthcare, and world class infrastructure, the Botswana diamond industry creates what the D.E.F. refers to as a ‘diamonds do good’ impact.”
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Co-founded in 2007 by Russell Simmons, De Beers, and other diamond industry leaders, D.E.F. works to foster cultural enrichment and educational opportunities in diamond communities. In Botswana, D.E.F. partners with the Top Achievers Program, which is administered through Botswana’s Ministry of Education and Skills Development. This project provides top high school students the opportunity to study at a university of their choice, worldwide.
According to Orem Lyman, “The Botswana Top Achievers program is far-sighted in that it affords students from across the country to pursue higher education degrees that are of strategic importance in terms of driving the economic diversification and sustainable growth agenda for Botswana.” Scholarship fields of study include Finance, Business, Engineering, Medical Health, ICT, and Science. To its credit, D.E.F has supported the Top Achievers program with over $740,000 in donations since 2011.
Any discussion of Botswana’s diamond industry must include its environmental sustainability and monitoring efforts, which along with water recycling and conservation, also include implementing measures to protect the fragile Kalahari desert and its wildlife. Leased mining lands help maintain biodiversity by providing habitat and wildlife corridors for endangered species such as cheetahs and rhinos. Mining companies remedy environmental impact by backfilling mines with earth so that the area can be used for farming or other purposes after the mine is tapped out.