Botswana, in southern Africa, has partnered with the London-based diamond giant De Beers for decades. Many in the country are pushing to get a better deal from the industry.
Botswana produces more of the world’s diamonds than any country but Russia. But Botswana, a small landlocked nation in southern Africa, keeps only 25 percent of the rough stones extracted in its agreement with De Beers, an international diamond conglomerate. De Beers takes 75 percent.
That disparity has been at the heart of an argument by the president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, that his country is getting a raw deal from De Beers, a London-based company. Mr. Masisi has said that if Botswana does not get more, it might walk away from the half-century-old partnership when the current agreement expires on Friday.
“We must refuse to be enslaved,” he proclaimed last month during a community meeting at a village 250 miles north of the capital, Gaborone. In publicly ratcheting up the pressure against De Beers, Mr. Masisi is raising a question now echoing across the continent: Can African countries keep a greater share of their wealth?
Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda, with vast mineral wealth and rich oil and gas reserves, are among many countries pressing to hold onto more of the profits from their lucrative resources, arguing that it’s necessary to lift people out of poverty. Long histories of colonial theft, as well as government corruption and mismanagement, have prevented many Africans from benefiting from their nations’ natural riches.
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