November 7, 2018
President Julius Maada Bio has called for diamonds to be cut and polished in Sierra Leone during a visit to Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) in Belgium.
Addressing board members and management of AWDC, diamond traders, miners, bankers and the press, President Bio said Sierra Leone is a major exporter of diamonds, adding that more focus should now be placed on value addition to diamonds in the resource-rich West African nation.
President Bio said his new government craves a different relationship with Antwerp World Diamond Centre to support his country with the infrastructure that would increase the value of diamonds exported from Sierra Leone. He also noted that though the country is a major exporter of diamonds not many of its people know about the precious stone. He invited diamond companies, miners and traders to invest in Sierra Leone but stressed the need for transparent and credible investment.
He also said that while he recognised the strategic importance of diamonds, his new administration would like to use proceeds from diamond trade to invest in human capital development. He told the audience that his new administration has prioritised investment in human capital through the provision of free quality education.
Welcoming President to the centre, Chief Executive Officer Ari Epstein said that President Bio’s visit demonstrated confidence in AWDC, adding that Antwerp has great expertise to support his new government. He also praised President Bio’s impressive leadership style, stating that: “With your commitment, it is necessary to have ethical sourcing”.
The call by President Bio for diamonds to be cut and polished in Sierra Leone would also create jobs and train Sierra Leoneans to use cutting-edge technology in diamond production.
President Bio, who studied diamond valuation in South Africa, is arguably the first diamond valuator to be elected President in Sierra Leone.
Later, President Bio was taken on a conducted tour of the centre by the Chief Executive Officer, visiting various laboratories for cutting, polishing, grading and valuation of diamonds. He also visited two reputable companies dealing in diamonds in Antwerp – Bonas and Diamcad.