With the aim of gaining more benefits from its exports of minerals such as cobalt and copper, the Democratic Republic of Congo has developed plans for focusing on developing a domestic industry to manufacture battery capacity, said the country’s government on Wednesday.
About two-thirds of the total cobalt mined in the world come from Congo mines around two-thirds of the world’s cobalt, an ingredient in lithium-ion batteries, and is Africa’s leading producer of copper. Demand for the minerals is rising to power electric vehicles and electronic devices.
However, Congo is actually losing out on the actual value of cobalt that is available as the final product to be used and this country that is considered to be among one of the least developed countries of the world only gets a small fraction of the value for the mineral that is available in the open global market and those that are used in batteries – especially for the rising demand for electric vehicles. Most of the world’s batteries are made in Asian factories.
A slew of steps that are targeted to enhance the pace of the development of a battery manufacturing industry in Congo were listed by the country’s Prime Minister Sama Lukonde while speaking at a two-day business forum in the capital Kinshasa.
The prime minister said that the country would create a Battery Council that will have the mandate of “piloting the government’s policy to develop a regional value chain around the electric battery industry.”
The government was also planning to launch of a special purpose vehicle that would target fund generation from the private sector to finance the domestic battery-making industry of the country, he also said.
However, no particular details about how long these initiatives would take to set up or how they would be funded were provided by neither Lukonde nor President Felix Tshisekedi, who was also present in the forum.
Any form of significant investments in Congo, apart from those used for extraction of mineral resources, has been made which has for long prevented the country to take advantage of the abundance of rich minerals – also compounded by very weak governance, pervasive corruption, and limited infrastructure in the country.
Neighbouring Zambia was willing to cooperate with Congo and other nations in the region for the development and enhancement of the industrial capacity of Africa said the country’s President Hakainde Hichilema. Zambia is also the second-largest miner of copper in Africa.
“We need to synchronize our continental strategy and value chain,” he said.
An agreement to further develop the battery industry in Congo has been signed by a number of development banks, including the African Development Bank. However, there was no information about the text or the nature of the agreement.
(Adapted from EconomicTimes.com)