Global Powers Vie for Control of Africa’s Copper Belt

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In the heart of Africa, the race for strategic minerals is in full swing along the “Copper Belt,” stretching from Zambia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This region stands as one of the most coveted areas globally due to its abundant resources, attracting major powers vying for a slice of the pie.

The competition for strategic minerals is fierce on the continent, with Zambia and the DRC boasting vast reserves of copper and cobalt, vital components for powering the world’s electric batteries. It is no surprise, then, that numerous stakeholders are clamoring to export these precious minerals.

On one front, China is strategically positioning itself, focusing on the East African coastline as an outlet for these minerals. Back in the 1970s, Beijing laid down a railway line connecting Zambia to the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, a route now in need of refurbishment. This project took center stage during the visit of the Zambian president to China last September.

This week, the Chinese government has entrusted a state-owned company with the task of negotiating a new concession for the railway line. The primary objective is to transport minerals to the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, a venture that pits China against another formidable player: the United States, which is intent on exerting its influence in the region.

On the other front, along the West African coast, both Americans and Europeans are working diligently to initiate the “Lobito Corridor.” The goal is to connect mineral-rich regions to the port of Angola. The United States is determined to move swiftly and is not concealing its intentions. Washington is steadfast in its mission to challenge China’s dominance in the region.

The competition for access to these strategic minerals in the Copper Belt exemplifies the intricate geopolitical maneuvering and economic interests at play in Africa. As the world’s appetite for electric vehicles and renewable energy sources grows, the significance of securing a foothold in this resource-rich region becomes increasingly apparent. In this high-stakes race, the future of global mineral supply chains and the balance of power in the global economy hang in the balance.

Soukaina Sghir

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