Cecil Rhodes, the famous British colonist realised upon the discovery of a large South African mine that the diamond business needed to be consolidated which he promptly did by controlling the mining of diamonds. This led to the foundation of the De Beers Company; the name De Beers taken from two brothers who owned the farm on which the Kimberley mines were discovered. The brothers are long forgotten but the name De Beer lives on as one of the world’s biggest and well-known companies, still controlling the majority of the diamond market. The evolution of the industry has come a long way but the structure, control and continued success of it owes its gratitude to the founders and their foresight.

Africa shows more than anywhere else the role diamonds play in bringing real benefits to people around the world wherever diamonds are sourced. Because this valuable commodity has been used to finance warfare, governments together with the diamond industry have worked to tackle this issue. In 2002, they established the Kimberley Process Certification System, a UN-backed process that has virtually eliminated the trade in conflict diamonds. Today, over 99% of the world's supply of diamonds is from sources free of conflict.

Some of the benefits from the industry are illustrated by the following. Approximately 5 million people worldwide receive healthcare from diamond revenues. Part of this revenue is essential in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Similarly, all children in Botswana receive free education from diamond earnings. It is estimated that around 10 million people in the world are supported by the industry, of which the trade in India alone employs around one million.

In 1999 Nelson Mandela said, "The diamond industry is vital to the Southern African economy. Rather than boycotts being instituted, it is preferable that through our own initiative the industry takes a progressive stance on human rights issues.

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