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13 Mai 2024


Africa: The increasing demand for the critical minerals brings potential to spur economic growth and development; union report finds

‘Will Africa’s transition minerals create green jobs?’ 8 May 2024

With abundant transition mineral resources in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) estimated at 30 per cent, by the International Energy Agency, what are the prospects for these minerals to create millions of the much-needed green jobs? Experts say that with increasing demand for the critical minerals, there is potential for this demand to spur economic growth and development in SSA. This will be an opportunity for the countries, which are currently facing high levels of poverty, unemployment, and inequality to develop?

…Researchers Thomas MacNamara and Siziba with support from La Trobe University and the IndustriALL regional office for SSA, went out to find some answers on how unions can influence debates and policy engagement on the Just Transition and on the job creation potential of the transition minerals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The four countries are major producers of the transition minerals with the DRC producing as much as 70 per cent of global cobalt while Zimbabwe has huge resources of lithium. The researchers of the baseline report entitled Influencing a Just Transition in the mining sector in Sub-Saharan Africa say the green jobs must be assessed on quality, sustainability, and appropriateness.

…The researchers estimate that most of the jobs will be in the construction phase for instance during the installation of solar panels. They cite a Price Waterhouse Cooper (2021) study, in South Africa, which estimated that while 800 000 jobs were created in the construction phase only 21 000 jobs were retained in the operation and maintenance phase. In Zimbabwe, about 7,000 jobs will be created on lithium mines but more jobs can be created through beneficiation of lithium instead of exporting raw lithium to China. In the informal mining economy in the DRC, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, especially in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) millions of jobs can be created. In the DRC alone, the ASM economy has over two million workers but without formalization ASM activities fall short of the decent work agenda.