Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 November 2018:
President Julius Maada Bio yesterday visited the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) in Belgium, where he called for diamonds to be cut and polished in Sierra Leone.
Addressing board members and management of AWDC, diamond traders, miners, bankers and the Press, President Bio said that Sierra Leone is a major exporter of diamonds, but more focus should now be placed on value addition to diamonds in Sierra Leone.
President Bio said his new government wants a different relationship with Antwerp World Diamond Centre to support Sierra Leone with the infrastructure that will increase the value of diamonds in Sierra Leone before export.
He also said that Sierra Leone is a major exporter of diamonds but not many people in Sierra Leone have even seen a diamond.
He invited diamond companies, miners and traders to in invest in Sierra Leone, but stressed on the need for transparent and credible investment.
President Bio also said that while he recognises the strategic importance of diamonds, his new administration would like to use the revenue generated from diamonds export to invest in human capital development in the country.
He told the audience that his new administration has prioritized investment in human capital through the provision of free quality education.
Welcoming President Bio to the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, the Chief Executive Officer – Mr. Ari Epstein, said that President Bio’s visit demonstrated confidence in the AWDC.
He added that Antwerp has great expertise to support president Bio’s government. He also praised President Bio’s impressive leadership, stating: “With your commitment, it is necessary to have ethical sourcing”.
President Bio’s call for diamonds to be cut and polished in Sierra Leone is expected to create jobs and train Sierra Leoneans on the use of cutting-edge technology in diamond production.
President Bio is arguably the first Sierra Leonean to be elected as President of the country, who is a trained diamond valuator. He studied diamond valuation in South Africa.
President Bio was taken on a conducted tour of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre by the Chief Executive Officer to see cutting laboratories, as well as the process for polishing, grading and valuation of diamonds.
President Bio also visited two companies dealing in diamonds in Antwerp – Bonas and Diamcad.