Sierra Leone’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Adikalie Foday Sumah, was accorded a profound honor in appreciation of his outstanding service at the UN when he was invited by the Government of Belgium to a working visit to attend the African Diamond Ministerial Conference in Brussels from November 12 to November 15.
The ministerial conference itself, which took place on November 14 was a high-level dialogue which brought together African mining ministers, diplomats , representatives of the global mining industry , civil society and academia to discuss the challenges and opportunities for African diamond-producing countries now and in the future.
The African Diamond Conference (ADC) was also a joint initiative of Belgium’s Federal Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). According to the DIAMOND LOUPE Website : “With nearly 400 in attendance, the ADC featured a broad range of speakers from across the entire diamond pipeline – from mine to finger – as well as diamond industry stakeholders.” The topics discussed included leveraging the diamond trade for economic development, marketing responsibly sourced diamonds to meet new consumer demands, the Kimberley Process and the potential impact of synthetic diamonds on diamond-producing countries.
The Diamond Conference is also a collaboration between the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and African diamond-producing countries. According to a report on the website of the Belgian Mission to the UN, “The initiative grew out of informal contacts years ago between AWDC and embassies of African diamond-producing countries. The organizers of the conference wish to further and deepen the dialogue over the sustainable and responsible management of natural resources in Africa. Thanks to the engagement of Belgium in Africa and to the importance of Africa in diamond trade in Antwerp, Belgium is well positioned to play a leading role. ”
The President of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre , Stéphane Fischler, in opening the conference, said that “Diamonds are not different than any other mined mineral or commodity. Managed properly, it will be a catalyst for economic diversification and socio-economic development. There is no question that the diamond industry contributes extensively to the improvement of local populations. ”
Apart from the conference , the special program organized for the Permanent Representatives to the UN included a workshop on PeaceTech : Data and New Technology for conflict prevention , an event on EU Policy towards natural Resources , and a working breakfast with His Excellency Didier Reynders, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs , with travel and accommodation provided by the Belgian Government.
The conference was also attended by the Hon. Alhaji Minkailu Mansaray, Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, who was one of the speakers.