LUANDA (Reuters) - Angola will make changes to how its secretive diamond industry works in order to attract more investment, increase production and secure higher government revenue, President João Lourenço said on a visit to Antwerp, Belgium.
Africa’s second-largest crude producer is trying to open up and diversify its economy after suffering a dramatic slowdown due to lower oil prices.
“We recognize that the policies for this sector, established by us, do not best serve the interests of the country nor of the producers,” Lourenço said of the diamond industry in a speech reported by Angolan daily O Pais on Wednesday.
Angola is the world’s fifth-largest producer of diamonds but miners have long complained that they are forced to sell their stones below international prices to politically connected middlemen, dragging on profits.
Much of the country remains under-explored due to 27 years of civil war and a closed, difficult business environment since fighting ended in 2002.
“We will soon announce the new framework for the diamond industry and we believe that with this, the big diamond mining companies will return to Angola,” Lourenço said.
He did not give any details about the changes or when they would be implemented.
Currently, Russia’s Alrosa is the only major diamond miner producing in Angola.
The president, who took over last September after 38 years of rule by his predecessor Jose Eduardo dos Santos, said he wants to increase the flow of Angolan diamonds to Antwerp, a global trading center also known for increased transparency.
Angola currently exports 70 percent of its diamonds to the United Arab Emirates.
Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Catherine Evans