b'B Though it is roughly the size of France (pop. 68.4 mil-Beyond otswana is a landlocked country located in southern Africa. lion), it is home to only about 2.5 million people, making it one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. The land was a British protectorate known as Bechuanaland from 1885 until it gained its independence in 1966. In 1967, just as Botswana was breaking free, De Beers discovered a kimberlite pipe at the site of what eventually became the Orapa mine. The discovery was so influential for Botswana, the mines first processing plant is featured on the reserve side of the 20 pula bank note to this day. In 1969, De Beers and the government of Botswana formed the De Beers Botswana Mining Company as a joint venture. It became the Debswana Diamond Company (Pty) Ltd., or simply Debswana, in 1992. The government owned a 15 percent stake in the company at the outset but increased its shareholding to 50 percent in 1975. In June 2023, De Beers Group and the government of Botswana signed what many believe could be their last 10-year sales agreement.It is the (slightly delayed) successor to the last 10-year sales agree-ment signed in 2011, which authorized the migration of aggregation and sales operations from London to Gaborone, Botswanas capital, and the establishment of the Okavango Diamond Company. ODC conducts rough diamond sales on behalf of the Botswana govern-ment, independent of De Beers.Media coverage of the signing focused largely on the fact that the government of Botswana will be taking an increasingly larger share of the countrys production in the coming years. There was, however, another element of the agreement that is not about divvying up diamonds; it is about life in Botswana after diamonds.The Diamonds for Development Fund is a reserve that will be used to create potentially tens of thousands of new jobs in the country, both by expanding the Botswana-based diamond industry and supporting the growth of other industries.While details were still being finalized as of press time, initial plans for the fund call for an upfront investment by De Beers of 1 billion Botswana pula (BWP), the equivalent of about $75 million.Further contributions over the next 10 years could total as much as BWP 10 billion ($750 million).Remarking on the fund at the Natural Diamond Summit held in Gaborone, Botswana, in November, De Beers CEO Al Cook said, Perhaps decades from now, when our successors look back, it will actually be the creation of the multi-billion-pula Diamonds for Development Fund that will be the most enduring element of the agreement in the diversification of Botswanas economy.Our partnership with the Republic of Botswana has endured for more than 50 years, not by standing still but by evolving. This new agreement demonstrates the vision of the government to look be-yond mining, to look even beyond natural resources, to grow sustain-ably the prosperity of the people of Botswana for decades to come. NATIONAL JEWELER 63'