Yaounde/Kinshasa, 30 June 2021 (ECA) – A senior official of the Subregional Office for Central Africa of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA/SRO-CA) has urged the Government and private stakeholders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to fully appropriate the African Mining Vision of 2009 in order to sustainably exploit and beneficiate the country’s strategic mineral deposits, link the mining sector to other sectors of the economy and create lasting jobs and wealth for Congolese and other Africans.
Jean Luc Mastaki, who heads the Economic Diversification and Policy Reform Section of ECA/SRO-CA, was speaking at the weekend at the Protestant University of Congo during a panel discussion to announce and emphasise the importance of a forthcoming DRC-Africa Business Forum meant to prompt the development of a robust battery, electric vehicle (BEV) and renewable energy value chain and market in Africa. Such a value chain should be capable of helping Africa to capture a larger share of this expanding BEV industry projected to be worth US$8.8 trillion by 2025.
The DRC-Africa Business Forum to be held under the patronage of President Antoine Félix Tshisekedi Tshilombo is being co-organised by DRC’s the Ministry of Industry, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Afreximbank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA).
“In the spirit of the African Mining Vision, there is great need for seamless policy and programme cohesion by various Congolese ministries – such as those of Mines, Industry, Economic Planning, Scientific Research and Finance to put the DRC on the pathway of transformation especially of battery minerals for resilient and long-term growth”, Mastaki propounded.
He said as the DRC integrates its mineral sector with the rest of its economy, it would be necessary to promote a mining code and policies which leverage the country’s path to industrialisation, strengthen mineral beneficiation and promote an inclusive approach based on an affirmative local content strategy.
The current political economy of mining has created an unbalanced dynamic whereby minerals constitute 98% of the DRC’s exports yet only contribute to 18% of the country’s GDP, 18% of Government’s revenue and 11% of jobs, observed Marit Kitaw, economist in the Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resources Division (TCND) of ECA.
She presented the six segments of the $8.8 trillion global BEV value chain by 2025 which includes a $11 billion component on mineral exploitation, a $44 billion facet on minerals-to-metals transformation, a $217 billion sector on the production of precursors, a $387 billion line on battery cell manufacture, a $1.8 trillion section on cell assembly and a $7 trillion (and above) portion of electric vehicle manufacture. On this continuum, she regretted that despite its heavy endowment in these strategic minerals, the DRC only captured gains from the very first and least profitable stage of the chain – which is the digging up and sale of raw minerals.
“The demand for battery minerals is soaring with the most strategic of them – cobalt, lithium and graphite – found in great quantity in the DRC and other African countries,” Kitaw noted.
“Why not locally transform these minerals now and develop a profitable continental market for their end products, such as electric vehicle (EV) batteries in and for Africa, before the world starts looking for their alternatives with eventual tech leaps,” she quizzed.
She argued that EV batteries are very difficult to transport, hence it would be most profitable to develop and use them within Africa’s own integrated common market (the AfCFTA).
Other speakers at the panel discussion spoke similarly in favour of the urgent movement of the DRC and other African countries up the ladder of the BEV value chain.
Jean Dieudonné Kavese, Chief of Staff of the Minister of Industry of the DRC’s Minster of Industry, Julien Paluku, who has been very engaged in the preparations towards the forthcoming DRC-Africa Business Forum said now was the time “to accelerate the industrialization process of the DRC as well as that of the continent, hence ending the vicious circle associated with the strong dependence on raw materials which will have to give way to a more diversified and resilient economy.”
Léon Kaseya Naye, Chief of Statf of the DRC’s Minister of Mines – Antoinette N'Samba Kalambayi – said “it is time to ultimately end the DRC’s reputation as a rich country with a poor population,” stating that “the DRC-Africa Business Forum, being prepared, will offer an ideal framework for the consolidation of a pro-development mining sector in the DRC, in accordance with the reiterated vision of the President of the Republic and his Government.”
Auguy Bolanda Menga Momene who is Chargé de Mission of the DRC’s Agency on Special Economic Zones (AZES, in French), said “this is the time for paradigm change in the mining sector of the DRC” and outlined four conditions necessary for the change to occur. These, he said, are: 1) the strong involvement in and appropriation of better policy reforms by Government, 2) private sector participation, 3) prioritising the development of value chains to benefit from global trade in said strategic products; and 4) building the capacity of youths to ready them for the demands of the labour market.
Concluding the discussion on a high note, Jean Marc Kilolo, economist at ECA/SRO-CA said with Africa (and the DRC in particular) holding some of the most strategic minerals in the world, using these assets to move up the BEV and energy value chains would not only stir the continent towards sustainable development, but position it as an indispensable player in the fight against global climate change.
“We can change our fortunes with a frank and serious dialogue, and this is what the DRC-Africa Business Forum is offering,” he pondered aloud.
The definitive dates of the said Forum will be announced soon on the following web page: https://www.uneca.org/events/central-africa/drc-business-forum.
Abel Akara Ticha - Communication Officer
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