The dismantling of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s led to the near collapse of the Armenian diamond cutting industry, which after a brief period of growth in the early 2000s has again declined. To rebuild the industry using global best practices and to increase access to raw diamonds, the Armenian government contacted the World Bank. Meanwhile, Lesotho had identified the diamond industry as a potential source for growth and had commissioned three diamond mines. The government also wanted to attract foreign direct investments and train high-skilled local labor to add value downstream.
After learning about the success of East Asian countries in developing their economies and attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) through Special Economic Zones (SEZ), many African governments wanted to use the same strategy to improve their economic performance. However, most African countries lack the capacity to design and implement SEZs, including lack of policy framework clarity, difficulties in physical planning and land administration, and insufficient regulatory and administrative knowledge. They have also not being very successful in involving the private sector in SEZs.