Country Report Central African Republic October 1998 Main report

Economy: Diamond exchange reopens hoping for a recovery in business

The diamond exchange in Bangui resumed operations on July 28th. It had suspended operations months earlier because business was slack after the closure of several buying stations. Much of the CAR's gem output is produced by artisanal diggers who sell to travelling buyers. This pattern of trade has been seriously disrupted by a spate of violent highway robberies. However, more buying centres have now opened. The South Africans have been particularly active in launching prospecting and purchasing operations in Bangui and in the mining region of Bria, 580 km north-east of the capital. The managing director of the diamond bourse, Olivier Malingba, hopes that they will attract additional mine operators. The bourse was set up partly in an effort to raise the average purchase price offered to miners and thus tempt them to sell more of their output through official, taxable channels rather than to smugglers. The Bretton Woods institutions will be watching to see if the new minister for mines, Desire Pendemou, proves more effective than his disgraced and dismissed predecessors, Charles Massi and Joseph Agbo (3rd quarter) in increasing the government's revenue from the mining sector. Mr Pendemou is a former Air Afrique executive and political supporter of the opposition politician, Abel Goumba, who later took up with Martin Bhe Dogo of the ruling MLPC.

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