The DRC supplies about 70 per cent of the world’s cobalt used in the production of batteries, an essential component to power electric vehicles.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo supplies about 70 per cent of the world’s cobalt used in the production of batteries, an essential component to power electric vehicles, yet the country captures only 3 of the global battery and electrical value chain. The scenario which policymakers and experts say must change.
According to Ms Vera Songwe, the Executive Secretary of UN Economic Commission for Africa, the rhetoric of saying that the DRC can electrify the whole continent and that the country has 70 per cent of the world’s reserve of cobalt and that DRC can feed everyone in Africa must be translated into actions. « in 15 years, the world will produce about 50 million electric vehicles. The DRC and Africa as a whole have to play an important role in this global supply chain by taking advantage of their abundant natural resources,” she said.
According to the new study entitled: “The Cost of Producing Battery Precursors in the DRC”, by BloombergNEF, Electric vehicles represent a $7 trillion market opportunity between today and 2030 and $46 trillion between today and 2050.
Mr Alain Foca, a journalist at Radio France International said that the transformation of minerals such cobalt, copper, lithium, manganese, nickel and graphite into a battery plant in Africa would “change the paradox of sitting by the river yet the people of the continent remain thirsty”.
The demand for electric vehicles and investment in battery-powered storage systems will require skills development and the necessity of an education that would not only improve employability but also provide the youth with the tools needed to be successful in entrepreneurship endeavours. Experts stress that DRC would need to invest in skills development to grow a qualified workforce capable of implementing this industrialization project.
“For the first five years, the DRC might need to depend on international expertise”, a stamen mande during the panel “Skills for the development of batteries in the DRC”, organized by that Rawbank as part of the DRC Africa Forum 2021.
Mr Jean-Marc Kilolo, ECA’ Economic Affairs Officer said that some companies are now looking at skills and know-how, not just the diplomas obtained. He stressed that training and internship opportunities for the students and graduates as well as placement opportunities with leading companies to acquire the necessary practice are crucial. Mr Mustapha Rawji, Managing Director of Rawbank in DRC said that the bank will invest in this area in collaboration with higher training institutions.
According to ECA, Africa has about 55,000 women and men in engineering, yet the African Union’s Agenda 2063 targets to achieve about 4,3 million people in the field. The biggest challenge in implementing Africa’s Agenda 2063 remains the inadequacy of the critical technical skills, as Africa has to produce at least 300,000 engineers per year until 2063.
Jean Marie Kanda, Dean of Polytechnic Faculty at the University of Lubumbashi affirms that the generation of the necessary skills will play a central role in making DRC successful in the production of lithium-ion battery cathode precursor materials.
The theme of the DRC Africa Business Forum was “fostering the development of a battery, electric vehicle and renewable energy industry value chain and market in Africa.” At the opening, the DRC President Félix Tshisekedi referenced the author Frantz Fanon when he said, “Africa is shaped like a gun and Congo is the trigger.”
“At least 107 bodies were found following the attack, yesterday and today, of the villages of Drodro, Largu and surroundings, in the province of Ituri, by militiamen of CODECO. The vast majority of the dead are civilians” (Ekipe, 22.11.2021).
“Drodro (Ituri): the FARDC who had fled when the CODECO militiamen attacked yesterday Sunday finally returned to the locality on Monday, after the militiamen withdrew. The toll of this attack remains to be confirmed, but could be high” (LUCHA, 22.11.2021).
The CODECO isn’t the most known militia or guerrilla operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Kivu Security Blog has written this about CODECO for everyone who doesn’t know their history:
“CODECO is essentially active in Djugu, a territory of Ituri province long-scarred by community-based violence and tensions, effectively between the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups. This can be traced back to colonial times: steeped in racialist theories, the Belgian authorities supported the Hema community, whom they considered to be superior at the time, and who were mostly comprised of farmers (see the report “Violence and Instability in Ituri” by the GIC network), often to the detriment of the Lendu community, which is one of the largest of the province (just over 25% according to some estimates)” (…) “According to Floribert Njabu, the moral authority of the FNI, who was able to enter into dialogue with the CODECO militia in 2020, members of CODECO present their movement as “an army, a church, and a company” all at the same time” (…) “CODECO militia members do not clearly articulate their political demands, apart from their right to fight against the “harassment” by the FARDC who they accuse of having been “infiltrated” by foreigners, according to Floribert Njabu. Incidents caused by CODECO are not limited, however, to attacks against the FARDC: they have also committed many killings, particularly of Hema civilians” (Kivu Security Tracker – ‘In Ituri Province, the FARDC are Unable to Distinguish CODECO Militias from Civilians’ 15.11.2021).
So, now the CODECO have killed even more people in the Ituri region. This is clear now that they are continuing their rampage in the region. As the CODECO is settling the scores of old in the territory. This might be another one where the CODECO is targeting the Hema population in the Djugu territory of the Ituri region.
This is very tragic and the KST have registered 133 violent incidents between 1st April 2021 to the October 13th 2021. That is this year alone, but not since their inception and that should be worrying. The FARDC cannot run away from the region and return when the massacre is over. That is what happened this weekend.
Ituri region is one of the regions under State of Emergency and still the FARDC isn’t safeguarding the general public. That is a tragic result and so many innocent civilians lost their lives this weekend.
After this massacre, the CODECO should be known like M23 or any other guerrilla being active in the DRC. Peace.