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Advancing US-Africa collaboration for critical mineral supply chain diversification: Strategies and recommendations

A senior study group convened by the United States Institute of Peace has delved into the pivotal role Africa plays in diversifying US critical mineral supply chains. Their findings suggest that fostering new investments and partnerships with African nations could not only drive economic development but also enhance peace and security across the continent.

Critical minerals are essential for a range of technologies vital to the strategic sectors of the United States, including net-zero industry, digitalization, space, and defense. However, the US heavily relies on imports for many critical minerals, posing a risk to its economic and national security, especially considering its dependence on foreign entities, notably China, for key minerals.

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The demand for critical minerals is surging globally, driven by the transition to non-fuel-based energy sources and the electrification of economies. Africa holds significant potential to bolster the security of US critical mineral supply chains. While the continent is already a source of many critical minerals, ensuring responsible and equitable development is paramount.

To address these challenges, the study group proposed several recommendations for the United States to support partnerships with African nations. These include:

  1. Sharpening US-Africa policy with a specific focus on critical minerals.
  2. Empowering African civil society and the media to promote transparency and accountability.
  3. Leveraging existing USAID programs to assist African countries with rule-of-law and fiscal transparency efforts.
  4. Tactically addressing Chinese mining activities in Africa while ensuring compliance with high standards.
  5. Prioritizing the development of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) between the US and African nations, such as the US-DRC-Zambia MOU.
  6. Strengthening the impact of the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) in Africa.
  7. Mobilizing the private sector to enhance African infrastructure development.
  8. Investing in commercial diplomacy to build critical minerals partnerships in Africa.
  9. Expanding membership of the Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) to include African partners.
  10. Increasing support for the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) to engage young Africans in leadership and entrepreneurial training.
  11. Assisting Africans in building technical capacity in the mining sector.
  12. Prioritizing US national security interests in trade and investment policies related to critical minerals.
  13. Supporting efforts to address challenges associated with artisanal mining while ensuring benefits for workers and communities.

These recommendations underscore the importance of fostering mutually beneficial partnerships between the US and African nations to ensure the sustainable and responsible development of critical minerals, thereby promoting economic prosperity and stability in Africa and bolstering US critical mineral supply chains.

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