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19.01.2007 Business & Finance

Ghana strengthens, To Eliminate Trade

By Daily Graphic
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hana has complied with three of the six measures instituted by the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) which seeks to prevent the use of the country as a conduit for the sale of blood diamonds from Cote d'Ivoire, a Deputy Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, Mrs Rita Tani Iddi, has said.

They are the registration and licensing of diamond buyers and the issuing of identification cards to them, allowing World Diamond Council (WDC) examination of rough diamonds purchased since the suspension of exports and the establishment of an oversight committee to ensure the compliance of the KPCS process.

Mrs Iddi announced this at a meeting with experts from the WDC and the KPCS in Accra yesterday.

The officials of the WDC, Messrs Rodney Baynard, Andrew Coxon, Antony Dear and Niklas Bjerie, are in the country on a routine inspection of Ghana's diamonds to ensure that they are not from conflict areas, while the KPCS official, Mr Abbey Chikane, a South African, is in the country to monitor the implementation of other measures instituted by the KPCS.

The KPCS is an international certification system launched in January2003 by governments, industry and civil society. It is aimed at preventing the sale of diamonds from areas held by rebels in armed conflicts in a bid to ensure the elimination of trade in such diamonds to fund conflicts civil wars and terrorism against legitimate governments.

In the middle of last year, a report by a United Nations panel of experts on Cote d'Ivoire issued a paper on the ineffective internal controls in the implementation of the KPCS in Ghana and made the allegation of the possible routing of diamonds from rebel-held areas in neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire through Ghana to international markets.

Following submissions and responses by Ghana at the Kimberly Process Plenary Session in Gaborone, Botswana, from November 6-9, 2006, participants agreed to assist Ghana to remove weaknesses in the implementation of the system and also strengthen internal controls to prevent usage of Ghana as a conduit for blood diamonds.

The plenary thereafter instituted measures for Ghana to improve internal controls, build capacity for the inspection of rough diamonds prior to export and assist in geological exploration of new diamond deposits.

The diamond trade in Ghana generates $30 million annually, directly employs 10,000 people and indirectly another 25,000.

Mrs Iddi said apart from those steps the government had taken, the ministry had also held a meeting with stakeholders, namely, the Minerals Commission (MC), the Mines Inspectorate, the Geological Survey Department and the Precious the Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC), to allocate responsibilities which would ensure compliance with the KPCS.

She stated that two officials from the PMMC were sent to the Dubai Diamond Exchange in December last year, under a technical assistance programme for capacity building in rough diamond evaluation.

Other activities going on she said, were the renewal of licences and registration with the issuance of new identity cards by the PMMC, registration of miners and compilation of production figures by the Minerals Commission and the Ghana Consolidated Diamond Limited.

Estimates of actual production capacity of some diamond producing areas by the Geological Survey Department and the Minerals Commission, she added, were also on-going.

All these, she added, were aimed at ensuring that Ghana met the KPCS requirements.

Story By Mark-Anthony Vinorkor

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