By Michelle Graff
Ottawa, Ontario--The Government of Angola, the current vice chair of the Kimberley Process (KP), has renewed its financial support of the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), the Ottawa-based nonprofit that is working to formalize the artisanal diamond mining sector.

The DDI announced the renewal of Angola’s financial commitment to its work on Friday.

DDI works closely with governments in Africa, civil society organizations and industry members on projects aimed at formalizing the system for artisanal mining, educating on human rights issues and improving working conditions and incomes for diamond diggers across the continent. Artisanal mining refers to non-formal methods of diamond extraction done using simple tools.

According to DDI Executive Director Dorothée Gizenga, more than 1.5 million people work under difficult circumstances in artisanal mining. “When African governments, like Angola, step up to the plate and show us their support and faith in our work, it inspires us to work harder and reach higher,” she said.

In 2012, when the United States chaired the KP, the members of the process adopted the Washington Declaration, which lays out an ambitious agenda of social and economic development imperatives related to the artisanal and small-scale diamond mining sector that  are to be integrated into the KP.

This year, the chairmanship of the KP passed to South Africa, with China as vice chair. Following the plenary last month, China took over as chair and Angola was elected vice chair meaning that, barring anything unusual, the chairmanship will pass to this African nation in 2015.

Commenting on Angola’s renewed commitment to DDI, Chairman Ian Smillie, one of the founders of the KP who walked away from the organization in protest over the Zimbabwe issue in 2009, noted that African governments have to be partners in order to help the DDI solve the problems it seeks to address.

“The government of Angola’s continuing commitment to our cause demonstrates constructive and meaningful engagement,” he said.

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