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Cobalt Key To Success Of Electric Car Programs. Could Be Great Economic Opportunity For DRC

Africa | Commentary | Democratic Republic Of Congo July 29, 2017


According to BBC World Service (July 28, 2017), success of current ambitious plans in Great Britain, China, and elsewhere, for phasing out diesel and petrol cars and replacing them with electric cars will depend on availability of reliable supply of cobalt. The latter is a vital input in the manufacturing of batteries that power electric cars.

Cobalt is a very scarce mineral resource that often occurs in areas that have reserves of copper and some other minerals. According to statista.com (2017), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has 3.4 million metric tons of cobalt reserves that constitute over 50% of world's total reserves. Even with some other sources putting the percentage slightly lower to 47%, DRC's cobalt reserves are the largest in the world. This possession of vast reserves of cobalt gives DRC a great economic opportunity, given the current intentions of many countries of shifting to electric cars, and supported by electric car projects by some car manufacturers like Tesla, Volvo, Volkswagen, Toyota, etc. Whether DRC per se visualizes the opportunity, and intends to exploit it to their advantage, is another matter.

Notwithstanding, however, there are several ways DRC could do that. For instance, DRC could stop exporting raw cobalt to countries with electric car manufacturing programs, e.g. China, USA, Japan, Germany, etc., and instead invite electric car manufacturers from those countries to invest in processing of cobalt and producing electric car batteries in the DRC. In this way, DRC could become an important partner in the emerging lucrative multi-billion dollar electric car industry through contributing a vital input, hence getting a larger share of the revenues generated from its highly demanded cobalt. _____________________________ © 2015 - 2019 Africauptodate. All Rights Reserved