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Creation of battery metals value chain will help Africa realise its long-term vision

To realise the African Union’s Agenda 2063 of creating “the Africa that we want,” it is important that the continent commits to the creation of a battery metals value chain. As one of the world’s leading battery metals producers, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is key to realising this vision. This is according to Saturnin Wangwamba, Secretary General, Ministry of Industry DRC, who was speaking at the opening of the inaugural DRC-Africa Battery Metals Forum, taking place in Kinshasa this week.

The two-day event will help to position the DRC as the African hub for battery metals production and manufacture. Themed Creating Wealth for the DRC and Africa’s Battery Metals Industry Value Chain, the forum will contribute to building an inclusive and equitable battery metals industry in the heart of Africa, underpinning broad-based sustainable growth, local beneficiation and socio-economic development – all of which are key to realising the AU’s Agenda 2063.

Without a doubt, the DRC has an important role to play in achieving a net-zero future. Currently, it produces more than 70% of the world’s cobalt. In addition, it also has vast resources of key metals and minerals including lithium and the 3 Ts (tin, tungsten and tantalum), However, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the DRC captures only 3% of the battery and electric vehicle value chain.

Wangwamba urged attendees to engage with each other to explore opportunities to create wealth in the battery metals value chain in the DRC and Africa to ensure growth sustainable and socio-economic development of local populations. “This ambition is only achievable if we lay the foundations for inclusive, equitable and sustainable industrialisation as planned in the Master Plan of Industrialisation (PDI) and the Industrial Policy and Strategies Document (DPSI), two tools already adopted by the government of the Republic,” he stated.

DRC-Zambian collaboration a good starting point

Wangwamba pointed out that the signing of a cooperation agreement between the DRC and Zambia to facilitate the development of a value chain in the electric battery and clean energy sector in May this year was a historic moment for both countries. The agreement is expected to provide a framework for bilateral cooperation to develop the battery value chain as well as strengthen collaboration between Zambia and DRC. Once actualised, the combined strategy will create jobs for Congolese and Zambians and boost the economies of the two countries. Already, both countries are exploring opportunities to create Special Economic Zones for the production of battery precursors, batteries and electric vehicles.

He further added that the DRC has already made considerable progress in developing a battery metals value chain. This includes the establishment of the Agency for Special Economic Zones (AZES) the creation of the Congolese Battery Council (CCB), followed by the appointment and the installation of its members. “Let us therefore take advantage of this forum to reflect concretely on the issues related to the African mining vision, industrial integration, sustainable sourcing and financing of the battery and electric vehicle supply chain and take ownership of this initiative to lift our nations,” he added.

Related: Mining of DRC’s battery minerals must embrace past lessons learnt

Forum will help create African battery metals’ blueprint

Meanwhile, Samukelo Madlabane, Mining Events Director at VUKA Group, explained that the DRC-Africa Battery Metals Forum was conceptualised in direct response to the government’s endeavour to beneficiate its critical minerals and localise the manufacturing of battery precursors in the DRC. “As the world undertakes the just energy transition, the DRC finds itself at the heart of the action. The reality is, given that the country is endowed with some of the world’s largest deposits of critical minerals, without doubt, there can be no talk of the energy transition without the DRC.

“This forum has set itself some lofty goals. As an enabler of this sector, not only does it aim to shine a light on how the DRC builds this industry but the focus lies on sustainability, fairness, inclusivity and equality for all stakeholders, but mostly for the people of the DRC – thus unlocking local beneficiation, creating shared value and empowering socio-economic development,” he concluded.

Gerard Peter
Gerard Peter
Gerard Peter is a content creator and media strategist with more than 23 years' experience in new and traditional media.