WDC Executive Director Appointment A Big Step ForwardMarch 02, 17
Among the more outstanding news items this week was that concerning the appointment by the World Diamond Council (WDC) of Marie-Chantal Kaninda as Executive Director. Kaninda replaced Patricia Syvrud as of March 1.
The news has been known for some weeks by people not just in the WDC, of course, but by other industry figures as well. And it is being widely regarded as a major step in the right direction. At last, a large international diamond sector body – and specifically the one charged with representing the global diamond trade in the Kimberley Process – has brought on board a citizen of an African country to lead its operations.
Among Kaninda's responsibilities will be to provide the WDC with leadership, to liaise and develop relationships with key stakeholders, and to coordinate the representation of the WDC within the Kimberley Process, in addition to general organizational management.
Kaninda brings to the organization over 20 years of industry marketing and stakeholder engagement experience, according to the WDC's official statement. She was Chief Advisor External Affairs Africa at Rio Tinto, and had a long mining career in Africa, where she started with what is now AngloGold Ashanti. From the role of Administration and External Affairs Manager for De Beers, DRC, she later became the Business Manager and Community Manager for the exploration team, covering the DRC, Angola, Botswana, and India.
She is also currently Chair of an Anti-Corruption Working Group in the DRC for the private sector. Her team has published a Code of Conduct which has been adopted by 20 companies, according to the web site of the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) of which she is a member of the Board of Directors along with that of the Procredit Equity Bank.
The Anti-Corruption Working Group, together with the Office of the Prime Minister, Civil Society and other public sector agencies, developed the National Anti-Corruption Pact for the DRC. She also established the MCKM Foundation which focuses on educating girls in the DRC. The Foundation awards more than 100 scholarships a year to girls to enable them to receive secondary education.
Her geographic experience covers many countries in Africa, including the DRC, Central African Republic, Guinea, Cameroon, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, and Madagascar. She has successfully developed and implemented community resettlement programs and stakeholder engagement strategies and plans at mining operations across Africa.
In addition, she has been responsible for setting up and managing African subsidiaries of international mining companies, including sitting on their Boards and, when required, successfully managed their exits from the country in compliance with those countries’ standards and requirements and the highest international standards, according to the web site of MCK&L Consulting which she set up.
There was said to have been no shortage of applicants for the position, with many excellent candidates, and almost all being from Western countries, according to one source. But given her background, skills and experience, as well as the fact that she is a DRC resident, is fluent in French and English and knows the situation in Africa so well, Kaninda was seen as bringing a unique set of advantages to the position.
One diamond industry figure said the situation was somewhat akin to the beneficiation debate. "For more than a century, Africa's diamonds were removed from the continent in their rough form and all the value added outside, he said. "But the last decade has seen a big turnaround, especially with the transplantation of many of De Beers' operations and services to Botswana from London where they had been located for scores of years instead of being in Africa where the modern diamond industry started and where the vast majority of the world's diamonds are located.
"In a similar way, the WDC felt it made sense to have its top management official come from an African country and be based in one, as well as having vast experience of mining across Africa, rather than someone from a Western country. That gives it huge kudos and is a big jump forward. There is no doubt that the time has arrived for this step."