Belgian king sidesteps Mbumba’s call to lift ban on Russian diamonds

HYDROGEN PARTNERSHIP … President Nangolo Mbumba and King Philippe of Belgium will seal their countries’ bilateral green hydrogen partnership with visits to a hydrogen refuelling pump and green energy sites in the Erongo region over the next few days.Photo: Emma Mulwa

King Philippe of Belgium is yet to respond to president Nangolo Mbumba’s dissatisfaction with the G7’s ban on the importation of all non-industrial diamonds mined, processed and produced in Russia.

Russia launched a war on Ukraine in February 2022.

Belgium is responsible for implementing the ban.

Mbumba on Tuesday told the king the ban would be detrimental to Namibia’s diamond trade and would have a negative economic impact on African diamond-producing countries, such as Namibia, Botswana and Angola.

“This decision poses a serious risk and threat to our economies by increasing costs, as well as curtailing the freedom of trade for our countries,” he said.

Namibia, one of the top diamond miners in southern Africa, produced 2,3 million carats of rough diamonds last year, recording a 9% increase from the 2,1 million carats produced in the previous year.

According to the latest figures released by De Beers, Namdeb’s land-based production increased by 14% to 468 000 carats from 412 000 carats in the previous year during the period under review, while in the fourth quarter it recorded a 13% decline in production to 151 000 carats.

Meanwhile, Debmarine Namibia’s off-shore production for 2023 increased by 8% to 1,9 million carats from 1,7 million carats in 2022.

Mbumba wants the G7 to find a solution to the matter without impacting African supply chains.

The ban impacts trade among all G7 countries, which in turn impacts Namibia.

“In that vein, we have requested urgent dialogue to find a mutually beneficial solution. We hope to count on your support and the understanding of the Kingdom of Belgium,” Mbumba said.

The king did not respond to Mbumba’s sentiments, but rather focused on the two countries’ potential green energy relationship.

“These resources are giving shape to the just energy transition, which is at the top of your government’s agenda. Green hydrogen production at Walvis Bay would reduce CO2 emissions on land and at sea, making our planet a healthier place for its inhabitants,” he said.


Russia can no longer export diamonds directly or indirectly to G7 members. The G7 consists of seven member states: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Additionally, the European Union is a “non-enumerated member”.

Last week, the head of the Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC), Brent Eiseb, said in addition to other challenges, the industry has to deal with the impact of the introduction of the G7’s restrictive measures against Russian diamonds.

To deal with this, the company has moved to enabling end users to trace back the journey of their polished diamond to its source.

“As you know, diamond provenance assurance is a rapidly growing priority that will affect all parts of the industry, especially with G7 nations set to implement new import restrictions on the industry.

“Provenance capture at De Beers and NDTC is being delivered by ‘Project Vector’, which is a group-wide initiative and collaboration across technologies, diamond trading operations, information management and tracing,” Eiseb said during an update of NDTC’s business performance.

He said TracrTM is a digital platform for tracing natural diamonds from their source at scale, enabling exploring provenance, authenticity and the unique journey a diamond has taken.

“This enables the industry to provide an immutable record of a diamond’s provenance, empowering all players to have confidence in its origin,” he said.


Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah says Namibia should be vigilant in its dealings with Western countries.

“It’s important that the king’s visit to Namibia must be in Europe’s and the global North’s broader interest, which is energy demand.

“The West’s policy strategies, and Europe’s in particular, are driven by two motives: how to get GH2 at cheaper prices, but also to sell GH2 infrastructure and expertise to the global South, including Namibia, where resources to produce GH2 fuel are in abundance,” he says.

Kamwanyah believes that the green energy drive involves neocolonialism or ‘green colonialism’ for the West to continue plundering the global South’s resources, which would have economic and social implications for Namibia.

“Unfortunately, because we are desperate for development, we find ourselves surrendering to neo-colonialism without questioning.

“The elites, who would most likely benefit from this partnership, are the ones blindly accepting the West’s neo-colonialism. The GH2 partnership between the West and global South is an unequal one and borders on the continuity of colonial domination,” he says.

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