The recent revelation of substantial coltan deposits in six counties in Kenya, including Embu, has sparked considerable excitement among Kenyans.
At a time when the country is struggling to boost its exports, such news is welcome, as the resource, if handled correctly, could boost the economy.
The rare mineral is used to manufacture electric car batteries, mobile phones and other electronic devices. We however would like to urge patience and caution as prospecting exercises continue.
It is important to note that it is still not clear how large the coltan deposits are and therefore their value is yet to be determined.
Given the kind of conflict and other challenges experienced in other areas of Africa where such minerals have been discovered, we are calling for proper preparation of the communities that sit on these deposits and which stand to benefit once the same is exploited.
Africa is indeed rife with bad examples of how such mineral resources are managed. The Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, holds more than 70% of the world’s coltan reserves, which have, for decades, fuelled violent conflict in the east of the country.
Our hope is that the authorities will be keen to ensure that issues surrounding the Environmental Impact are addressed conclusively.
Further, the potential social Displacement, ethical concerns surrounding child labor, land management, corruption, exploitation of vulnerable communities, community health, as well as possible Conflict and Security Concerns must be addressed as a priority before any mining activities begin.
The discovery of coltan in Kenya is indeed a blessing that could change the lives of Kenyans significantly; we only hope that this resource will be carefully managed to ensure it does not turn it into a curse.
Copy by Fred Indimuli- host Morning Cafe show