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Why Is Africa So Poor When They Have Diamonds?

Why Is Africa So Poor When They Have Diamonds?

We’ve noticed that there are some misconceptions about where the diamonds from Africa come from and, on a related note, why is Africa so poor when they have diamonds.

Well, we’re here today to answer some of those questions and, more importantly, discuss why the African continent struggles that much with finances even though they are one of the most dominant parts of the planet when it comes to diamonds and their excavation.

We understand that this is a complex topic – and one that requires quite a bit of research to get to the bottom of things. 

So, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to tell you all about why Africa isn’t benefiting – at least not to the degree one would expect – from the gems they have in their possession and how that could change.

Without any further ado, let’s jump straight into it!

Where Does Africa Get All Its Diamonds?

It’s widely known that some of the most extensive reserves of diamonds are located all over the African continent.

Considering that, you’d probably think that Africa and its inhabitants reap the rewards of those diamonds, but unfortunately – that’s not the case.

Despite there being multiple countries with large quantities of diamond deposits in Africa, there isn’t much profit left to the people living there when those diamonds are excavated and sold.

While we’re on the subject, it’s worth noting that one of the countries that hold the most diamond reserves globally is located in Africa. We’re talking about Botswana here – and we’ll mention it a couple of times down the road.

Now, the question of where do diamonds in Africa come from is a simple question to answer.

Besides Russia (which stretches on two continents – Europe and Asia), Africa has the world’s most extensive natural reserves of diamonds.

The “only” complication would be the excavation process and the selling of said diamonds.

Private companies do a large portion of diamonds excavated from the African ground since they have the machinery, the workforce, and the monetary resources to do so.

But, some of the biggest non-private sellers of diamonds are people that don’t use that money for good things. If you’ve ever heard the term “blood diamonds” or “conflict diamonds,” you also probably know why they’re called that.

For those who aren’t familiar with those terms, blood diamonds are the diamonds excavated and sold from areas of conflict worldwide – but mainly in Africa – to fund terrorist organizations, guerilla fighters, and the like.

That leads to diamonds being sold illegally or on the black market, which doesn’t leave room for the country to make any profit or be paid any taxes on those diamonds.

Blood Diamonds

In order to understand the importance of diamonds on the continent of Africa, we need to talk about the significance of blood diamonds – and why they’re mentioned so much when a topic such as this comes around.

As we’ve explained earlier, blood diamonds are the diamonds that have been excavated and sold from the area that’s experiencing some kind of conflict.

Those conflicts can be political, ideological, racial, financial, or of any other kind. It also involves firearms, so blood diamonds always come from places where people suffer and die due to some sort of violent conflict.

With that said, diamonds from Botswana are not blood diamonds and do not fund conflicts in the area.

Botswana’s one of the most prosperous and peaceful countries on the African continent. That goes to show how not all diamonds from Africa are blood diamonds – and how stereotypes don’t have any place when this subject is discussed.

But, some regions that are rich in diamonds do have some internal conflicts going on and are using diamonds to fuel those conflicts. And that, by definition, makes diamonds from that region “conflict diamonds.”

Let’s go over some countries that produce so-called “blood diamonds” and are located in Africa are:

  • Sierra Leone
  • Liberia
  • Angola, the Republic of Congo
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • The Central African Republic
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo

All of these countries are rich in diamond reserves, but they’ve also been the grounds for many conflicts such as civil wars, rebellions, and so on.

So, when diamonds come from these countries, they are called blood diamonds for a reason. It’s vital to note that not all diamonds from these countries need to be labeled “blood” or “conflict diamonds,” though.

For example, what if the diamond is excavated, verified, sold adequately, and approved by the Kimberley Process? 

That diamond wouldn’t be considered a blood diamond even though it comes from the part of the world that’s seeing some conflict.

What’s Kimberley Process?” you might ask. 

Don’t worry; we’re going to explain it in just a little bit. Until then, let’s focus on blood diamonds and see if residents of African countries under conflict have any benefits from the whole thing.

Well, when a diamond is sold correctly, and all the taxes have been paid, then the government has an opportunity to spend that money to improve the living conditions for the residents.

Suppose there are legal projects and worksites for excavating diamonds. In that case, people in the surrounding area can find work there, possibly a long-term job – which indirectly boosts the economy.

But sadly, when we’re talking about blood diamonds, none of these things happen.

To get to the diamonds, terrorists, guerilla fighters, and people that contribute to the conflict in that area will force the prisoners of war or unarmed population to excavate the diamonds on their behalf.

Then, they make them work in horrible conditions where people either die, exhaust themselves to their limits, or get killed if they don’t work hard enough.

It’s such a terrible thing to think about – especially when you look at the beautiful gemstones that come out of it. 

What happens next?

Well, when the diamonds that have been acquired that way are sold on the black market – or by other illegal means – there’s no one to pay the taxes or give money to the government. And the workers are barely paid, too.

That means two things:

  • One, diamond dealers on the black market don’t pay any taxes, which means all the profits from the blood diamonds go towards the goals of violent people.
  • And two, people who work on getting the diamonds from the ground aren’t there willingly – and aren’t working even for half-decent pay.

That means that the people of Africa are staying hungry while warlords and other violent groups are selling diamonds, making millions – and spending it all on weapons and other means of war and conflict.

That’s a big part of why Africa isn’t as prosperous as some other countries that have significant reserves of diamonds underneath them.

What Is The Kimberley Process?

We’ve mentioned the Kimberley process before in this article. And we feel that, for clarification’s sake, we need to explain the Kimberley process and why it’s crucial for diamonds coming from Africa.

The Kimberley Process (KP) unites administrations, civil societies, and industry in reducing the market flow of the so-called conflict diamonds – “rough diamonds used to finance wars against governments” – worldwide.

That’s the definition of the Kimberley Process from their official website – and, well, there’s no better explanation than their own. Kimberley Process is vital for a few reasons, but the most important one is that they’re fighting against what’s making Africa so poor – at least diamond-wise.

The United Nations initiated this process to combat conflict diamonds from entering the legal market. That might be as good as it can be bad, though: 

By preventing rough conflict diamonds from entering the legal market, they’ve left no choice to people in which possession the said diamonds are – and made them resort to the black market.

On the other hand, United Nations prevented all the other countries from directly financing the conflict areas, prolonging them – and possibly altering the outcome.

Kimberley Process is critical in combating illegal and blood diamonds to enter any kind of legal rings where their existence would be legitimized.

What Would Need To Happen For Africa To Get Rich From Its Diamonds?

There are some speculations about what needs to happen for things to take a turn for the better. 

The main topic seems to be how to get the profits from the diamonds of African origins into the right hands – as in, the responsible governments – that could then use that money to improve the living conditions for everyone.

But sadly, a majority of these things will probably not happen in our lifetime.

Africa is known as a continent that has seen many civil wars, warlords, uprises, guerilla fighting – and its history is riddled with conflict.

The thing is, many people living on the African continent are constantly waiting for yet another conflict to arise and for things to go into some sort of war-fueled mode again. That plays a significant role in Africa’s current conditions. 

Even more so, there’s the fact that warlords and other people who are trying to profit from this are excavating diamonds from the ground and selling them with almost no repercussions.

That means that the changes that need to happen should be on a bigger scale. It doesn’t only imply that the way people go about diamond-related business has to change. 

Social change is needed, as well.

Assisting the local governments to combat these warlords isn’t something that’s easily done – but everything starts from there.

Everything would be much easier if the United Nations found a way to stop the “wrong people” from getting their hands on those diamonds.

Africa would be a much more prosperous continent overall: The residents there would have jobs, money, and better living conditions – and the diamonds wouldn’t be used to prolong all those violent conflicts.

Also, there would need to be a ceasefire in the regions rich in diamonds so that governments or private companies could extract those diamonds and sell them legally.

That’s easier said than done, though, especially when you look at the conflicts there. Some of them have been raging for over a decade, meaning they’re not anywhere near their end.

In other words: Everything that needs to be done for Africa to regain ownership of its diamonds is complicated – and certainly not something that could be resolved in a matter of a few short years.

Related Read: Which Diamonds Are Famous In Africa?


Africa and its diamonds are quite a strange topic to cover. There are many factors that people aren’t aware of, such as local conflicts, inhumane working conditions, and blood diamonds.

And the question of why is Africa so poor when they have diamonds isn’t the easiest one to answer and explain.

For starters, in some African regions rich in diamonds, there are ongoing conflicts preventing companies or governments from excavating those diamonds safely.

The second thing is that people who usually get their hands on diamonds in Africa are warlords that sell those diamonds to fund and finance civil wars, guerilla fighters, uprisings, and the like.

That’s why, right now, to sell the diamonds from Africa legally and safely, Kimberley Process needs to verify the diamonds. The idea is to put a stop to the distribution of conflict diamonds.

Some things could potentially change the fact that residents of various African countries live poorly – but almost all of those things are nearly impossible to implement. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done before we can see any significant improvement. 

Anyway, it’s time to wrap things up. We hope that we cleared things up and helped you better understand what’s going on with the precious stones that originate in Africa. 

Related Read: Which Country Has The Best Diamond In The World?