African Countries Urged to Prioritize Green Mineral Value Chains for Sustainable Industrialization

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Addis Ababa (ENA) February 27/2023 Acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Antonio Pedro said to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, the SDGs and Africa’s Agenda 2063, the world must decarbonize its growth models and shift to renewable energy sources.

Speaking during a panel discussion on ‘Building a regional battery mineral value chain in Africa,’ Pedro said the shift to renewable energy sources was a resource-intensive path that required greater production of a variety of minerals that are central to decarbonization.

Africa is home to many of such minerals. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example,  produces over 70 percent of the world’s cobalt. DRC and Zambia together supply 10 percent of global copper while Mozambique and South Africa hold significant reserves of graphite, platinum metals, lithium and more.

“We have clear opportunities not only from the global green mineral boom but also from our domestic achievements, such as the African Continental Free-Trade Area to facilitate the development of regional value chains for these green economy products,” Pedro said, noting several innovative financing mechanisms that have been developed to support initiatives such as the battery and electric vehicles value chains.

The session was jointly organized by ECA and Afreximbank on 26 February ahead of the 9th Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) to be held in Niamey from 28 February to 2 March 2023. The organizers wanted to present the specifics of the lithium-ion battery initiative to a  wider audience.

“In the last two decades we have seen that without the right enabling policies and incentives, commodity super-cycles come and go, leaving our countries dependent on resource extraction,” said the acting executive secretary.

He deplored the fact that about 70 percent of the region’s exports are unprocessed commodities, a situation that can change with the right policies that prioritise industrialization and value-addition in mining and other resource sectors. 

Oluranti Doherty, Director of Export Development at the Afreximbank noted that it was disappointing that despite Africa being endowed with an array of minerals from copper, magnesium, nickel and cobalt, the continent has not been able to make energy transition. 

Underlining Afreximbank’s commitment to promoting an inclusive battery and electric vehicle value chain, Doherty, said the bank is promoting industrialization on the continent.

“We are working on a framework agreement for special economic zones for the production of batteries, electric vehicles and accessories and we will facilitate the commencement of  studies to facilitate the development of this facility,” Doherty said.

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