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#NoCongoNoPhone: Big Tech Brands Are Eerily Silent Over Children Miners

In October 2020, a viral video of a young child engaged in mining activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo broke the internet and was trending with the hashtag, #NoCongoNoPhone. The original video was posted on YouTube by Sky News in 2017 and reposted in 2018.



While the world’s attention was turned towards the menace and suffering of young children in Congo, majority of the big brands that are likely implicit in this atrocity have not steeped forward. They are simply using the old tactics of ignoring an issue until it goes away. And this is not a new thing.


The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the world leader in cobalt production. It accounts for about 63% of cobalt in the world. Cobalt can be produced from many metallic-lustered ores like cobaltite. But more commonly, it is produced when mining copper and nickel.

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While cobalt is used in making magnetic and wear-resistant and high-strength alloys, it is more vital in producing lithium-ion batteries. These are also called Li-ion batteries and are the most common type of rechargeable batteries. These batteries are used in smartphones, and many other electronic devices.


Journalists and human rights activists have been hounding big tech players to step in and do something about the fact that many of the mines in Congo are worked by children, some as young six. These mines are also artisanal and the miners dug with hand tools and crude equipment. Apple had, for example, stopped buying ore from suppliers who patronise the implicated artisanal mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Additionally, while no big tech brand has been name-dropped during the 2020 #NoCongoNoPhone trend, it is by no means an acquittal. Artisanal mines are still existing because they still have customers. They may be running their business through several middlemen. This is why big tech companies are advised to meet the miners directly before buying ores.


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Onwuasoanya Obinna

A reader of books and stringer of words. Passionate about Science and Tech. When not writing or reading he is surfing the web and Tweeting.

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