The rise in global demand for cobalt, an essential component of the lithium-ion batteries found in electronics and electric vehicles, should bring prosperity to the people of resource-rich Democratic Republic of Congo. Instead, as has been the status quo for generations, growing demand for limited resources has meant little benefit for the historically troubled country’s ordinary citizens. As demand for the metal continues to soar, cobalt miners have been met with exploitative and illegal industry practices- including wide-spread child labor.
A pilot program, using blockchain technology, intends to trace the material from the source through the supply chain to instill much-needed accountability in cobalt production.
A recent report by Amnesty International and African Research Watch alleges that world leaders in electronics and automobiles are neglecting basic checks to ensure that cobalt is sourced without the use of exploitative practices. Big names including Apple, Samsung, Sony, Volkswagen, and twelve other multinationals are indicted in the report.