De Beers, diamonds and Angola : developing an understanding of the role of sustainable development and corporate citizenship in De Beers’ exploration strategy
Thesis (MPhil (Sustainable Development Planning and Management))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.
The tensions in the definition and practical implementation of sustainable development are clear. A number of international codes outline the principles that are considered as good corporate citizenship, but are often based on the priorities of the developed ‘North’. Africa calls for a more development-orientated approach to sustainable development. The subject of this study, Angola, is emerging from a history of slavery, colonialism and civil war. Although richly endowed with natural resources and exemplifying one of the world’s fastest growing economies, Angola scores near the bottom of the Human Development and Corruption Perceptions Indices, thereby typifying the Natural Resource Curse. Understanding sustainable development in this context, multinational corporations involved in exploiting these natural resources, are able to contribute to the sustainable development of Angola through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. An extensive review of the literature, augmented by the author’s experiences (including a recent visit to Angola) as a participant in De Beers’ exploration process allows a number of observations to be made regarding the contribution De Beers can make to the sustainable development of Angola. De Beers, a world leader in the exploration, mining and marketing of diamonds. Recently De Beers has resumed exploration activities in Angola and is in a position, and perhaps has an obligation, to play a part in Angola’s reconstruction. This would obviously also have business benefits. As exploration is not an income generating activity the initial contribution will need to focus on conducting exploration activities in a responsible manner through identifying opportunities to collaborate with local communities and institutions on issues of common concern for mutual benefit. Focusing corporate social responsibility actions on core business activities within De Beers’ sphere of influence; linking with existing initiatives and prioritizing a specific sector or geographical area will have a meaningful and lasting impact. Legal compliance and supporting government institutions in their effort to regulate have also been identified as important opportunities. The most significant contribution that De Beers can make through their exploration activities is to the social and human capital of the areas in which they operate. The exploration CSR activities should lay the foundations for a possible future mine, which has the potential to add significantly to the manufactured and financial capital of Angola.