GABORONE – Botswana's rough diamond exports plunged around 66% in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, data showed on Friday, as the coronavirus pandemic hit demand and global travel restrictions impacted trading.
Botswana closed its borders in March to curb the spread of the virus, locking out international buyers from countries like India, Belgium and China who traditionally travel to Gaborone many times a year to view and buy diamonds.
According to central bank data, Debswana, a joint venture between Botswana and Anglo American unit De Beers, exported rough diamonds worth $287-million in the third quarter of 2020, against $863-million in the same quarter of 2019.
Botswana gets about 30% of its government revenues from diamonds, which constitute 70% of exports.
Although it has recorded only around 6,600 COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths, Botswana's economy has been severed affected by the pandemic, with authorities predicting an 8.9% contraction in 2020.
The government said this week that to restart the tourism sector, which is the country's second-largest foreign exchange earner, it will from Nov. 1 open its borders to international tourists by allowing private chartered flights into two towns close to its prime attraction, the Okavango Delta.