Bridging the Gap: How Africa Can Meet Europe’s Growing Demand for Critical Raw Materials

 As we witness a global shift towards renewable energy and a decrease in reliance on fossil fuels, the demand for critical raw materials (CRMs) is steadily increasing. Amongst all regions, Europe finds itself at the forefront of this transition, with a high demand for these essential resources. However, the continent’s heavy reliance on countries like China and Russia for CRMs raises concerns about the sustainability and security of its supply chain. This article explores the potential of Africa to be a vital solution to Europe’s raw material demand and the opportunity for a mutually beneficial partnership between the two regions.

The Global Transition and Rising Demand for CRMs 

 In order to effectively combat climate change and support the growing demand for raw materials amidst the global green transition, swift actions must be taken to greatly increase production capabilities. In particular, resources like rare earth minerals, lithium, cobalt, and nickel are crucial for the advancement of renewable energy technologies. According to projections, there will be a dramatic increase in demand for materials such as cobalt, natural graphite, and lithium in the next decade. However, current production capacities and investment plans are insufficient, making it imperative to quickly ramp up investments. As a leader in the green transition, Europe is experiencing a surge in demand for these critical resources, particularly rare earth elements that are essential for the production of clean energy equipment. This shift away from fossil fuels in Europe only further emphasizes the urgency of the situation.

The net-zero commitments of numerous nations, predominantly in Europe, have spurred a heightened need for critical raw materials (CRMs) that are vital in the production of environmentally-friendly technologies necessary to achieve these ambitious climate targets. This urgent transition has also placed immense pressure on the CRM supply chain. The rising issue of Europe’s heavy dependence on China and Russia for its CRM supply chain has raised concerns. With potential geopolitical tensions, trade disputes, or disruptions, the continent’s access to these essential resources could be at risk. Thus, it is not only a strategic decision but a crucial necessity for Europe to diversify its sources of raw materials to ensure stability.

Africa’s Pivotal Role in Addressing Europe’s Raw Material Demand 

Africa is a land overflowing with a vast wealth of vital resources, all of which are in high demand. As a result, the continent is well-positioned to bridge the ever-widening gap brought on by this surge in demand. However, realizing this potential requires both African nations and their international partners to make substantial investments. It’s worth noting that Africa reigns supreme when it comes to the world’s crucial materials. In fact, according to the Center for Strategic & International Studies, the continent boasts an impressive 85% of the world’s manganese, 80% of its platinum and chromium, 47% of its cobalt, and 21% of its graphite. But that’s not all – rare earth elements are actively extracted in countries like Angola and Burundi, while ambitious projects in Malawi, South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Madagascar, Morocco, and other nations are paving the way for future production.

The Way Forward 

In recent years, African countries have been driven by a pressing imperative to make the most of their abundant mineral resources, leading to a trend of resource nationalism policies. However, these policies have not yielded the desired results. In order to fully capitalize on its vast resource wealth, Africa must evolve from a mere exporter of raw materials to an active player in the value chain of CRM industries. This shift requires an expansion beyond simple extraction and exportation of resources, and instead establishing processing factories and refineries. By participating in downstream activities, African nations can maximize the value of their resources and boost their presence in the global CRM market. As a key approach, setting up processing factories within the continent can not only facilitate local refinement and processing, but also serve as a source of employment opportunities for the region.


As the global community endeavors towards a greener and more sustainable future, the importance of securing a dependable supply of crucial raw materials cannot be overstated. The increasing demand for CRMs in Europe opens up a promising avenue for Africa to make a significant impact. Through active involvement in the value chain, setting up processing facilities, and fostering collaborative efforts, both continents can establish a comprehensive and mutually beneficial partnership. Such a proactive approach not only addresses Europe’s raw material needs but also makes a valuable contribution towards the overarching global objective of achieving long-term sustainability and resilience.

For Convergence International SAS


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