US must rethink its Africa policy with focus on critical minerals — USIP report

The United States must rethink its Africa policy with a focus on critical minerals, including by boosting its diplomatic and commercial presence in African mining hubs, with the aim of reducing its dependence on “foreign entities of concern,” predominantly China, says a recent report from the Washington-based United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

Being heavily reliant on imports for many critical minerals for use in electric vehicle batteries and other applications such as cobalt, graphite, and manganese, the US needs to change its Africa policy to safeguard against export controls and market manipulation by geopolitical competitors.

The USIP report comes as the US tries to catch up or become a competitor with China whose investment in Africa is heavily concentrated in the extractive sector. Western mining companies are trailing behind their Chinese counterparts in the competition to access the continent’s vast mineral reserves. According to the report, “US economic and national security depends on securing a reliable supply of critical minerals, including from Africa.”

Chinese firms reportedly own or have stakes in 15 of the 19 cobalt producing mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which produces more than 70% of the world’s cobalt, and they have also established a foothold in Zambia, the world’s sixth-largest copper producer and the second-largest cobalt producer in Africa. “Especially concerning is that the United States is at or near 100% reliant on ‘foreign entities of concern’ — mainly the People’s Republic of China — for key critical minerals,” says the USIP report.

The USIP report thus urges the US government to invest in “commercial diplomacy” in Africa after the efforts of the Biden administration and Congress to support US firms in African markets have largely failed to achieve their objectives, with no sign that China and Gulf State competitors are retreating.

 

 

About Khalid Al Mouahidi 4412 Articles
Khalid Al Mouahidi : A binational from the US and Morocco, Khalid El Mouahidi has worked for several american companies in the Maghreb Region and is currently based in Casablanca, where he is doing consulting jobs for major international companies . Khalid writes analytical pieces about economic ties between the Maghreb and the Mena Region, where he has an extensive network