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Vast mineral reserves, paradoxically a problem for Congo

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Republic of Congo

The Republic of Congo is rich in natural resources, but this has also brought with it the vicious violence cycle caused by insecurity and poverty due to which the benefits of these resources have not reached the common citizens.

The excessive extraction of resources has caused environmental damage and stoked violent conflict which has led to unprecedented human challenges.

The DRC has rich reserves of timber, oil and gas, gold, and diamonds. It is also rich in minerals like cobalt and copper which are critical to the energy transition.

In fact, lithium and cobalt are key components in the batteries that can help the world move away from fossil fuels. There is an abundance of reservoirs of these two elements in the DRC, Africa’s second-biggest country by land mass. The world’s 70 percent of Cobalt is found here.

Despite its advantages in terms of natural resources, it is facing development challenges. It ranked 179 out of 191 countries and territories worldwide on the 2021 Human Development Index, and in 2018, 60 million of its people that make up 70 percent of the population survived on less than $1.90 a day.

Also, it has 3.5 million metric tonnes of cobalt reserves. Cobalt along with Copper plays are pivotal to the electrification of energy and transport. From electrical vehicle batteries to solar panels and wind turbines it has extensive applications. Congo is at the heart decarbonization initiative. The inequality is further widened due to the governance of the extractive resources.

Also Read:- Underfunding hits UNHCR operations in Uganda

In the past decades, Congo witnessed a period of violence that to a large extent is because of the mismanagement of natural resources. In many studies including the UN Group of Experts on the DRC, it has been pointed out that mining is one major source of financing for armed groups. The mindless extraction of resources also burdens the country’s biodiversity, with poaching, pollution, deforestation, and soil erosion threatening biodiversity.

The exploitation of natural resources can bring prosperity but it also presents profound risks to local communities and ecosystems.

Congo is highly dependent on the extraction of resources but historically local communities have not benefited from it. In our efforts to decarbonize the needs of developing countries cannot be overlooked.

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