No more plundering: Can Africa take control in green mineral rush? – by BUKOLA ADEBAYO, JOANNA GILL AND KIM HARRISBERG (Japan Times – July 19, 2023)

JOHANNESBURG/LAGOS/BRUSSELS – From Zimbabwe’s lithium-rich rocks to Democratic Republic of Congo’s cobalt, minerals critical for clean energy technologies are increasingly in demand from Africa’s trade partners as part of the global green transition from planet-warming fossil fuels.

Yet on a continent long blighted by the so-called “resource curse” — whereby nations rich in oil or gold, for example, have failed to convert this into wider prosperity — governments have increasingly restricted or banned mineral exports in recent years in a bid to boost processing and retain more of the gains. This strategy could backfire, however, by deterring foreign investment, several analysts said.

The European Union (EU), meanwhile, has voiced concern about growing export restrictions in Africa on critical minerals used in renewable and low-carbon technologies — from batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) to wind turbines.

More than a dozen African nations — including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria and Namibia — have restricted such exports intermittently or banned them outright, according to research published in May by the Africa Development Forum.

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