The Geological Scandal that is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) mineral map (Source: Atlas du continent africain, Jeune Afrique et editions Jaguar, 2000)

Last week, a reader asked us why the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is often referred to as a “geological scandal” of nature. For starters, the DRC is one of the world’s richest countries in natural resources, with the richest concentrations of precious metals and minerals on earth, with large deposits of gold, diamonds, uranium, copper, cobalt, tungsten, coltan, bauxite, cassiterite, and much more. According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), it has about 75% of the world’s coltan, the material at the heart of the mobile phone revolution; about 70% of the world’s cobalt reserves, over 30% of diamond, 10% of copper. The uranium used for the bombs that detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki came from the DRC. The electrical car battery revolution is all based on Congo’s wealth; there is no way the West can sustain an electrical car industry without Congo and its reserves. Apart from mineral wealth, the DRC is also one of the most biodiverse areas in the world.

Unfortunately, this abundance of internationally valued minerals and natural resources has however failed to bring any kind of prosperity to the country. It began with colonial exploitation of the land and its people by King Leopold II (King Leopold II and The Congolese Genocide), and continued in bloody civil war; the Congolese have harvested nothing from their country’s natural riches but misery and poverty. The world’s bloodiest conflict since World War II is still going on today on Congo soil, and has made over five million deaths…

For more, check out the article by Colette Braeckman, The Looting of the Congo, BBC – DR Congo: Cursed by its natural wealth and the extensive articles written by a fellow blogger at WiPoKuli Schluter. We had found a good documentary a while back about Congo’s resources, but somehow it is no longer available. So I live you instead with The Race for Africa by Gravitas Plus, which actually helps to understand the importance of Africa (and Congo) today, and the race for its resources. Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “The Geological Scandal that is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

  1. Aaron

    Dr. Y
    As much as I admire the info provided by your write-up, I think that African intellectuals should start looking at this issues from an ideological stand point.
    Why has this been happening? This is because we, Africans, have been less ambitious. Why do I say so? Sixty years after and the thousands of intellectuals that Africa possesses, we cannot come out with a modus operandi on how to exploit these natural resources for our own benefit. A lot have been relying on manna from “developed” countries. Just plain stupid to think that those who engaged our ancestors in slave trade, colonize us and put a cultural aliénation éducation syllabus will be the one to guide us towards development. Never seen something as puerile as that. The Asians understood it air long and are making great stride. India is now a major cock and is now crowing.


    1. Dear Aaron,
      Thank you for your comments. They are so true! Indeed! How could we believe that those who enslaved us, colonized us, maimed us, killed us, and more could now bring us salvation? It is really beyond comprehensible. I had a discussion with an Asian friend about the FCFA, and he could not understand that such a thing could still exist today. Some of the biggest problems are the lack of unity, and betrayal between the ranks. Kwame Nkrumah’s vision built on unity, and Kadhafi’s also.


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