Ambassador Sorie pays working visit to Antwerp World Diamond Centre
Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and Head of Mission to the EU, Ambassador Ibrahim Sorie, on Monda, February 24 paid a working visit to the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), the biggest diamond centre in the world.
The Ambassador and entourage was taken on a conducted tour of the centre’s laboratories where rough diamonds are polished; the Import and Export departments; the Expertise room, and taken through the entire processes on how diamonds are received world over, processed and ready for export to final destinations, likewise the issuance of Kimberly Process certificates.
During the guided tour, it was revealed that the AWDC based in Belgium’s second city, Antwerp, is the world’s biggest and most important centre for diamond trade.”Approximately, 84% (Eighty Four percent) of the total world production of rough diamonds is being traded in Antwerp, as is an estimated 50% (Fifty percent) of all polished diamonds worldwide”, stated Mark Van Bockstael, AWDC’s Chief Officer Business Intelligence.
Mr. Van Bockstael further revealed that diamonds represent approximately 5% (Five percent) of Belgian exports and 15% (Fifteen percent) of all Belgian exports outside the EU.
“Each year, 28,000 (Twenty Eight Thousand) Kimberly Process certificates are issued in Antwerp, which represents half of all the KP certificates issued worldwide. In 2012, the diamond sector generated an added value of USD 930Billion (Nine Hundred and Thirty Billion United States Dollars) and the sector accounts for a total of 6000 (Six Thousand) direct jobs and 26,000 (Twenty Six Thousand) indirect jobs”, he revealed.
Antwerp, according to Karla Basselier, Senior Manager and Head of Public Affairs, is home to over 1,700 (One Thousand Seven Hundred) registered diamond firms including rough diamond producers and dealers, manufacturers , polished diamond wholesalers and some 2000 (Two Thousand) diamond and jewelry related businesses.
Ambassador Sorie expressed appreciation for the tour and informed that His Excellency, President Ernest Bai Koroma would like to take the opportunity to visit the centre in April when he is scheduled to attend the EU/Africa summit in Brussels, an offer the AWDC management gladly accepted and volunteered to mobilize the top executives of the business community in Belgium to meet with the Sierra Leone Head of State.
Ambassador Sorie further informed them on the establishment of the National Minerals Agency (NMA), which he stressed offers guide and technical assistance on the mining sector to potential and genuine investors in Sierra Leone. He appealed to all genuine investors in the diamond industry interested in Sierra Leone diamonds to go through the NMA, which he emphasized is staffed by experts and avoid using the back door which usually ended up with the buyer buying fake diamonds.
The Ambassador and entourage also paid a brief courtesy call on the offices of one of Sierra Leone’s renowned diamond magnates, Alie Mackie.
By Chernor Ojuku Sesay,
Sierra Leone Embassy,