Ghana sets Kimberley diamond deadline

Ghana sets Kimberley diamond deadline

Ghana has set the deadline of March as the month in which it will pass all the requirements of the Kimberley Process to clear its name from the list of countries involved in illegal trade in diamonds coming from conflict regions, reported Ghana News Agency this week.

The country was accused in October 2006 of certifying rough diamonds from neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire as Kimberley Process compliant.

Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands Forestry and Mines, said that the government was committed to the Action Plan developed at Gaborone, Botswana during the Kimberley Process plenary in November that will assist the country to deal with conflict diamonds issues.

”The Action Plan is so critical to Ghana since it presents another opportunity for us to clean our image,” he said at a gathering to honour a team led by Paulus Geraedts, the Acting Head of the European Commission (EC) in Ghana that arrived in the country over the weekend to provide it with technical support towards implementing the Kimberly Process.

The European Commission took over chairmanship of Kimberley Process on January 1, 2007, and is helping Ghana strengthen its regulatory, monitoring and supervision mechanisms for the certification scheme. The United States is aiding Ghana as well.

Fobih said the government had put into place a general supervisory body chaired by the deputy minister of mines to give the entire process a ministerial prominence adding that the Precious Mineral Marketing Company was being empowered to tighten its monitoring and supervision mechanisms.

”Ghana must be seen to be championing the process itself,” Fobih added.

The Kimberley Process has proved successful in curbing illegal trade of conflict diamonds reducing them to less than two percent of all the gems in circulation.

It has also proven to be an effective and innovative instrument of international cooperation involving multilateral corporations, governments, nongovernmental organisations and the diamond industry.

Abbey Chikane, chairman of the South African Diamond Board, who is also part of the team of consultants, maintained that Ghana could meet all the requirements, but noted that the country was yet to quantify the exact volumes of diamonds produced at the various mines.

”By the end of February 2007 we are optimistic that Ghana will be ready to receive a special mission from the process for assessment of its implementation. The more countries that are involved in the process, the more we do away with more countries that serve as safe places for illegal trade in conflict diamonds,” Chikane was quoted as saying.

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