DRC set to become Africa’s largest producer of mining components for battery

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The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is strengthening its position to be Africa’s largest producer of mining components needed for Battery Operated Electric Cars.

President of the DRC Félix Antoine Tshisekedi says this will make the SADC region one of the richest mineral resource countries on the continent. It will also place the continent at the centre of capturing a larger share of the expanding global BEV market.

President Tshisekedi is currently hosting a two-day multi-stakeholder Business Forum with various African countries including South Africa. The business forum will discuss electric vehicles, renewable energy value chains and markets in Africa.

SA to export and assemble electric cars

South Africa will need to phase out its export of engine combustion cars to Europe by 2030. Europe and America are both big markets for the country – plan to have 50% electric vehicle sales by 2030.

To remain relevant South Africa will have to export and assemble electric cars before the 2030 deadline. The government has identified key priorities for climate action including increased production of electric cars. The Congo government is calling on African governments to partner and develop a value chain to capture a larger share of this new lucrative market.

President Felix Antoine says Congo must play a frontline role in Greening the African economy.

Motoring journalist with Cars.co.za. Ciro De Siena says, “The announcement of a battery manufacturing facility in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not only a good move for that country but also a very good move for us down here in South Africa.

“The Congo is responsible for most of the worlds cobalt exports which is a critical component for batteries for electric cars and South Africa is the largest car manufacturing country on the continent and most of the cars we manufacture are for the export market. And if we can source these batteries from inside the SADC region I can only see that been a good thing for markers of cars down here,” says De Siena.

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema says they will work with the DRC to satisfy the need for a green energy-driven economy.

“It is indeed my honour to participate in this DRC-Africa business forum with a clear theme to develop a regional value chain around batteries and electric cars. This theme resonates well with our government’s aspirations to industrialise through the promotional value chains, It is also in line with our government commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop an economy that is sustainable for future generations,” Hichilema explains.

Regional value chains

Head of Metals and mining at BloombergNEF, Dr Kwasi Ampofo says, “We look at the regional value chains Africa can leverage on should the DRC build the plant that I just talked about. So in the report, we talk about a scenario where for example if the DRC decides to build the plant what is going to happen is that a country like Botswana can become a centre of excellence where we search innovation and development of further battery technologies can be conducted in that country. And ultimately we are looking at a scenario where South Africa can leverage on its existing auto industry to assemble and build those electric vehicles to serve the wider region.”

Ampofo says for Africa to leverage the DRC minerals a lot of investment, fiscal certainty good governance and consistent infrastructure development is needed before it can become a reality.

“In the DRC you’re looking at an investment of 301 million just to build a manufacturing plant. Africa has its existing demands for electric vehicles and the simple truth is that if you don’t produce for yourself who are you producing for. So if Africa can really leverage on its policies we can ensure that this dream becomes a reality.”

The DRC-Africa Business Forum is convened by the Government of the DRC through the Ministry of Industry, together with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (EAC) and the African Development Bank.

The battery-operated electric vehicle market is projected to be worth 8 trillion US dollars by 2025 and 46 trillion by 2050.