Following the Kimberley Process that sought to introduce more transparency in the way diamonds were mined in developing countries, carried through borders, traded, transformed and sold in developed countries, then the products of these transactions used in the purchase of guns and ammunitions that fuelled wars throughout Africa, efforts have been consistently deployed by stakeholders in the extractive industries to limit their nuisance effects in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world.
As of now, everybody knows the «blood diamonds» phenomenon, which was illustrated in a movie with glamorous actors such as Leonardo di Caprio, of «The Titanic» Fame. Facts related in that movie took place in Sierra Leone, which went through an atrocious civil war in the 1990s, fuelled by the illicit trade in diamonds by an unscrupulous rebel group lead by Foday Sanko as well as by fogy businesspeople and arms traders. However, the bloody track that came with the exploitation of Africa’s minerals did not stop there. Liberia, as well as the D R Congo, Angola and Zimbabwe were also involved in this bizarre process in which countries mineral wealth was not put in good use for their development, but against that same development and worse, against the people who must and should have benefitted from them, in these generally very poor countries.
Although its implementation has not gone as smoothly as expected, with issues arising in the conditions in which Zimbabwe exploits its diamond mines, the Kimberley Process has yielded some positive results, such as the Certification of diamonds origin and it surely has limited the impact and …of illicit exploitation of diamonds around the world.
Furthermore, the US Congress has passed a stringent legislation on transparency in the extractive industries, especially as regards the D R Congo and its eastern provinces of South and North Kivu. This legislation and its biting provisions not only against any country involved in such a trade, but also against industries that would use illegally traded minerals has produced significant results as seen recently, when Rwandan authorities made public the names of some of their high ranking military officers apparently involved in that traffic, and sent back to the D R Congo hundreds of tons of minerals they seized in their country.
However, another «blood minerals» issue is still taking place, in the Great Lakes region of Africa. It is about cassiterite, which is used in all modern technologies we in the West now take for granted, such as PCs, MOP3, Cellular and Mobile phones, planes, cars, PlayStations, HI-FI equipment, radio and TV sets, scanners, decoders, printers.
According to a book recently published by a French journalist, Mr. Christophe Boltanski, this mineral is still extracted in the Northern Kivu province by poor Congolese who risk their lives doing so, for a few Congolese Francs. They then carry the raw minerals in 50 to 60 kg bags by bicycle or on their back to Walikale, where it is flown to Goma. There, it is crushed and sent to Rwanda where trucks take it to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, to be exported by sea to Malaysia. In that country, the raw cassiterite mineral from the D R Congo is made into pure ingots of stain, which finally make their way into our consumers’ daily, indispensable products for our hi-tech and modern lives accessories.
Once again, we call upon African States, neighboring the D R Congo, their international partners within the G8 and G20 Groups as well as in regional organizations such as the AU and the EU and finally, industries that use these illegally extracted mineral to stop this negative flow of Africa’s resources abroad, to the detriment of the continent and of the social and economic development of its own people.