The Lack of Commodities for the Green Energy Revolution Turns the Spotlight Back on Africa

The energy transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energies faces major challenges. With the COVID pandemic, commodity prices have more than doubled in some cases. Moreover, it is also clear that the transition is primarily a commodity-intensive one because whether it is solar panels or batteries, the transition will not happen without the necessary raw materials.

It must be clear to the world’s richest nations that if they do not want to mine their own raw materials, they will have to import them from other countries. Because it is precisely these rich countries that are driving change on a massive scale. It was only at the last COP26 summit of the G7 that the majority of countries agreed to stop funding fossil fuel projects abroad. Japan, the only exception, did not agree. The scramble for the world’s raw materials has brought Africa back into focus, although in the past the circumstances for the people in the mines and the environment have repeatedly been strongly criticized.

Congo is one of the country’s richest in raw materials and also has the raw materials needed for clean energy. It is rich in various raw materials such as tin, cobalt, lithium, tantalum, and copper. Cobalt and lithium are particularly in the focus of battery manufacturers, as they need the raw materials for battery products. However, tin and copper are also important raw materials used throughout electronics.

Congo is currently seeing a flurry of mining projects that are already at an advanced stage. 10 mining projects will come online in the next 4 years and 500 more are in the progressed stage. It is expected that a large proportion of these projects will provide the raw materials for clean energy. Congo is also the world’s largest producer of cobalt and the largest producer of copper in Africa.

The richest nations will probably see their own interests in the foreground here and obtain the raw materials where they come from. This is precisely the crux of the matter because over the years various representatives of these countries have heavily criticized and in some cases shunned the working conditions in African mines. It can be assumed that the issue should not be played up, because unpleasant questions could arise here that are aimed at priority. On the one hand, there are inhumane working conditions, child labor, and environmental pollution, and on the other, the green agenda.

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