Diamond production is one of Angola’s main sources of wealth. It is the world’s sixth-biggest producer and third on the African continent. According to the African Diamond Council, the official governing body, the diamond industry in Angola represents nearly 1.2 billion euros in annual production.
Part of the answer lies in Lunda Sul, Angola’s mining province, where big investment is taking place. A new development hub, powered by green energy, is going up there in the city of Saurimo. It will bring together in one place, all the actors working in the diamond industry, both public and private. The aim? To stimulate growth and realise the sector’s full potential.
Diamond polishing factories, offices and a specialist training centre are at the heart of this project.José Ganga Junior, the President of Endiama (National company of diamonds of Angola) discussed the project with us. He says that “the hub is part of an effort to increase the diamond value chain”. Until now Angola “was basically a country producing and exporting rough diamonds”. With the new hub, they are expecting to add value to the industry and start diamond polishing in the country. They’ve even set a goal to transform around 20% of diamond production in Angola shortly.
The hub will also include educational programmes. Henriques Cardoso, Civil Engineer and Project Director at the Saurimo Diamond Development Hub told us that “the training centre will have 11 courses all linked to mining”. The centre will have full-time students and laboratories to support the courses and facilities.
The idea is to skill-up the diamond workforce of tomorrow and help Angola diversify its economy. Cardoso believes the hub will help with regional and national development, but he says it will especially benefit the local population in terms of employment. According to him, “young people will benefit from their technical and professional training, as well as the job market”.
One of the young people already benefiting from the hub is Wilson Cambunji. He works for the solar energy company fitting out the hub site. “I’m learning a lot, lots of things that I didn’t know”, he tells us enthusiastically.
The Somiluana diamond mine has been in production for more than a decade. For workers there, like Dionísia, the sector’s growing importance is a driving force and women have their place there. Dionísia tells us that “what we’ve come to see lately in these times is that women are actually taking over the mining industry”. She likes her job and she says that she gets into it and won’t stop until the job is done.
Angola shot up by an unprecedented 37 places in the FutureBrand Country Index last year. This, in part, is related to its focus on social responsibility and transparency in the diamond sector. Both are key factors to attract foreign and private investment and as José Ganga Junior puts it, Angola is a “virgin country (…) absolutely open to anyone interested in investing”.