A Rare Insider's View of the China-Africa Minerals Trade


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China-Africa trade rebounded in 2018 after several years of steady declines. Trade between the two regions last year increased by nearly 20% to $204 billion, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

The bulk of Africa's exports to China is raw materials, namely oil ($46.3 billion), minerals ($37.04 billion) and timber ($13 billion).

While the oil and timber businesses in Africa are dominated by large extraction companies, many of the minerals that the Chinese source there are pulled out of the ground by so-called "artisanal miners" who are often comprised of individuals, collectives and small-to-medium size businesses. It's a dangerous, miserable and exhausting way to eke out a very meager wage.

Those minerals, many of them from places like DR Congo, are in high demand in China where they are used to manufacture all sorts of electronic devices and increasingly electric cars.

But what happens to these minerals, like cobalt and tantalum, once they've left Africa and make their way to China? Well, they invariably pass through the hands of traders like Shenzhen-based Albert Rugaba.

The Rwanda-native has lived in China for the past 22 years, where he also graduated from university and now speaks fluent Mandarin. Albert has a ground-level view of the minerals trade and joins Eric & Cobus to discuss the latest trends in this important, yet little understood aspect of the China-Africa relationship.

Join the discussion. Can mineral-exporting African countries do more to increase the value of the minerals before they're shipped to China? Or, will corruption and incompetence hamper any efforts to reform the system? Let us know what you think.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ChinaAfricaProject Twitter: @eolander | @stadenesque Email: eric@chinaafricaproject.com | cobus@chinaafricaproject.com Follow Albert on LinkedIn where he regularly posts news and updates on the China-Africa minerals trade. Sign up here if you would like to join our weekly email newsletter mailing list for a carefully curated selection of the week's top China-Africa news.

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