Expanding the scope of the Kimberley Process to include issues related to human rights and labor relations, as is being advocated by the World Diamond Council (WDC), will help create conditions in which Sub-Saharan Africa's artisanal diamond miners can meet their economic potential.
This will also support the development of their countries' economies, WDC Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda told the 6th Forum of the Africa-Belgium Business Week, meeting on April 3 in the Belgian town of Genval.
Kaninda was delivering the opening address in her capacity as honorary president of the forum, which is organised by Africa Rise, a Belgian organisation that promotes Africa's economic and social emergence through contacts between its entrepreneurs and their counterparts from other parts the world.
The guests of honour at the forum were Central African Republic (CAR) President Faustin Archange Touadera and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.
Referencing the peace agreement signed in February by the CAR government and 14 rebel groups, aimed at ending the country's seven year-long civil war, Kaninda expressed the WDC's optimism that the end of the conflict will precipitate better prospects for the African nation.
"We believe that through the implementation of the peace process, the CAR will be able to resume the unrestricted export of rough diamonds, supported by the Kimberley Process Certification System, and, paraphrasing the President, help turn the CAR resolutely towards its development," she said.
The CAR remains under Kimberley Process suspension, forbidding diamond exports from areas falling outside of the so-called green zones in the western part of the country, from which diamond exports are approved monthly by a monitoring team.
However, its government has been working closely with the Kimberley Process to enable the sale of artisanally-mined alluvial stones.
Improving the living and working conditions of workers in the diamond mining industry, as well that of workers in other key sectors, like agriculture and forestry, will have a positive impact on the communities that they support, as well as other sectors of the economy and the country in general, Kaninda said. "These are the developments that we would like the Kimberley Process to support, through the expansion of its scope," she noted.