Insightful stories of the most pressing local, regional, and international developments brought to you by Sputnik.

DR Congo Against Apple: What is Role of External Actors in Illegal Mining of Minerals?

© AP Photo / SCHALK VAN ZUYDAMA Jung man carries whet Cobalt on his back in this wide view of the Shinkolobwe Cobalt mine
A Jung man carries whet Cobalt on his back in this wide view of the Shinkolobwe Cobalt mine - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 03.05.2024
In late April, Kinshasa, through French lawyers, accused the US company Apple of using illegally mined minerals in the manufacture of its products, affecting the transparency of supply chains for raw materials used in the production of cars, planes, electronics and renewable energy.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there are external actors who come to the country to participate directly in illegal mining, Dr Oluwole Ojewale, Regional Coordinator - Central Africa at the Institute for Security Studies in Dakar, Senegal, told Sputnik Africa, commenting on the DR Congo's accusations against tech giant Apple of using illegally mined minerals in the manufacture of its products.
He explained that more and more countries, including Western ones, are taking advantage of DR Congo's "governance gap" in the form of security problems to gain control over the country's resources.

"That is also well situated in the protracted conflict in the region, which most people argue and believe acts the external hand that is actually manipulating the local situations around this mineral region of Eastern DRC. Because you know smuggling, illegal mining is going to thrive better when they are taking place in the context of instability, state security resources are diverted to combating some of the security challenges," the expert said.

Ojewale added that the external actors who come to the DRC to engage in illegal mining do not comply with the certification mechanism that certifies that the minerals have been extracted in a peaceful environment where human and environmental rights are not violated.
In addition, due to capacity constraints, certifiers based in such countries as Belgium, the US, the UK, and China are unable to enforce certification standards such as no women and child workers and no environmental degradation in mines, he explained, so some of the minerals get into the supply chain through illegal mining and smuggling.
Apple - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 26.04.2024
Sub-Saharan Africa
DRC Gives Apple Three Weeks to Explain Suspected Use of Illegally Mined Minerals in Its Products
Furthermore, many of the DRC's mineral-rich regions are inaccessible to the authorities, who are unable to monitor compliance with certification standards. Illegal mining, in turn, leads to the destruction of much of the country's habitat, the degradation of soil and water, and disease among workers, the expert opined.
Regarding the responsibilities of multinational corporations like Apple, Ojewale emphasized the need for genuine engagement with local stakeholders and civil society organizations. He called for collaborative efforts to develop and enforce ethical sourcing standards tailored to the realities of resource-rich regions.

"So I think some of these technological companies in the Global North need to actually work with relevant stakeholders in the relevant organs of government, the civil society, the media, environmental activists on ground to develop a standard protocol that everybody can monitor and they can also have their eyes on the ground participating in that entire process, checkmating smuggling, checkmating illegal mining," Ojewale said.

Emphasizing that the DR Congo has become a "strategic point of global energy transition" because of cobalt for the production of batteries for modern electric cars and coltan, which is very important for the production of semiconductors for phones and other devices, the analyst noted that the abundance of resources does not affect the quality of life of the inhabitants of the Central African country.