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US Seeks to Strengthen Africa Ties for Critical Minerals Access

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louis Buyisiwe

Apr 9, 2024

The competition for securing minerals in Africa

U.S. economic and national security depend on securing a reliable supply of critical minerals, including from Africa," the United States Institute of Peace said in a report. The U.S. is almost 100% reliant on "foreign entities of concern," mainly China, for key critical minerals, it said, and must come up with own sources of supply to avoid being shorthanded and vulnerable to China's export curbs.
One of cobalt Cobalt mininers in the mineral Rich congo

The United States must enhance commercial relationships with African nations to reduce its reliance on China for crucial minerals, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) emphasized in a recent report.

With the U.S. depending nearly entirely on external sources, notably China, for essential minerals, the need to establish alternative supply channels is critical for both economic and national security.

Africa, rich in vital resources like cobalt and copper, is at the center of this strategic pivot.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, leading in cobalt production, and Zambia, a major copper supplier, are highlighted as key partners in this endeavor. However, the U.S. faces stiff competition, not only from China, which has solidified its mining presence in Africa, but also from emerging Middle Eastern investors.

To effectively compete, the U.S. is advised to pursue vigorous commercial diplomacy and foster partnerships focused on mineral procurement in Africa.

Suggestions include reopening the U.S. consulate in Lubumbashi, Congo, and developing comprehensive agreements with both Congo and Zambia to facilitate U.S. investment in the region's battery metals supply chain.

Supporting infrastructure projects like the Lobito Corridor rail link, which is crucial for metal exports from the central African copper belt, is part of the U.S.'s strategy to enhance its position in Africa.

Despite challenges in matching China's extensive mining ecosystem and investment levels, the USIP report remains optimistic about the potential for successful U.S. mining ventures in Africa with a proactive and strategic approach.

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