A Rush for Lithium in Africa Risks Fuelling Corruption and Failing Citizens
Efforts to address the global climate emergency are leading to an increased demand for renewable energy technology, particularly in the Global North, including electric vehicles and the batteries required to power them. Africa is one of the new frontiers in a race for battery metals, and lithium – sometimes referred to as ‘white gold’ – is one of the most sought-after commodities.
Global Witness investigated three emerging lithium mines in Zimbabwe, Namibia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). What we found shows that the rush for lithium on the continent – far from delivering a ‘just energy transition’ – risks fuelling corruption, and a range of other environmental, social and governance (ESG) problems. For generations African nations have been exploited for their minerals, and as the demand for ‘transition minerals’ increase, there is a danger of history repeating itself.