Africa’s (Modern) Slavery Problem – by Joanna Rozpedowski (Global Security Review – August 21, 2020)


From rubies in Mozambique to emeralds in Zambia, opals in Australia, and Jade in Myanmar, the mining industry is undergoing an extraction renaissance that is as profitable as it is contentious.

While concerns over environmental degradation, population displacement, employment of slave and child labor contribute to the fracturing of communities and exacerbate internal rifts and vulnerabilities of already fragile states, questions of whether or not mining is good for social and economic development grow in proportion and relevance.

Africa alone hosts inordinate amounts of mineral, gold, cobalt, palladium and platinum deposits enticing foreign interests and heavy Chinese investment. Often, however, such vast resource wealth in the hands of foreign corporate entities combined with poor regulation and state corruption raises grave concerns over equitable revenue sharing, land ownership rights, and respect for fundamental human rights.

The world’s rapacious appetite for natural resources, metallic, and mineral goods necessary to fuel the digital lives of western societies and quench the ever-deepening thirst of Chinese industrialists has once again turned the continent into a modern epicenter of slavery.

According to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, an estimated 40.3 million men, women, and children were victims of modern slavery. Women and girls made up 71 percent of victims. Modern slavery is most prevalent in Africa, where 9.2 million live in servitude, followed by Asia and the Pacific region.

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