The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) today officially announced the postponement of the African Diamond Conference due to safety and travel concerns arising from the COVID-19 outbreak. The conference was scheduled to take place in Durban, South Africa from May 5-6, and will likely be rescheduled for late October.
In a letter sent out to participants and attendees, the AWDC writes: "We regret to inform you that the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), together with its partners – the South African Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the African Diamond Producers Association and Belgium’s Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs – have come to the conclusion that the only sensible and realistic option available is to postpone the African Diamond Conference."
The African Diamond Conference will be a high-level gathering to discuss some of the major challenges and opportunities for African diamond-producing countries, now and in future. The speakers will include African mining ministers, leading mining executives from the major diamond mining companies in Africa and Russia, prominent individuals working in and around the global diamond industry as well as civil society and academia. The first African Diamond Conference was held in Belgium in 2017 and welcomed more than 300 participants and attendees.
The focus at the first conference included responsible supply chains, the potential threat of lab-grown diamonds and had the general objective of fostering an open dialogue with African diamond-producing countries. The 2020 iteration will further develop these themes while adding particular emphasis on capacity building, promoting good governance and providing insights for countries to position themselves regarding shared values with consumers.
The AWDC continues as follows:
"The decision to postpone the conference was only taken after thorough consideration of the current situation and of all the available options. At the end of the day, we felt the decision to postpone was the only feasible one. We need not point out to anyone the extent to which the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus has disrupted everyday life across the globe, leading to the postponement or cancellation of myriad events in the interest of public health.
Likewise, the top priority of the African Diamond Conference organizers is to protect the health of all those involved and those with whom they come in contact. Recognizing the fact that the participants would be arriving from all across the world – if they could travel at all – including countries hardest hit by the outbreak, we realized the only viable option was to postpone the gathering until a sense of certainty and safety is restored.
Listening to the advice of experts around the world, we hope and anticipate the situation will be contained and normal life restored after a few difficult months. Until that time comes, however, we hope that you, your families and loved ones remain safe and healthy. We will inform you as soon as we know more about the new date of the conference and wish to convey that we have not lost any of our enthusiasm about seeing you in South Africa in the fall."