NAIROBI - More than a fifth of the metals essential to the transition to renewable energy are mined in Africa.

Demand for cobalt, a critical mineral for electric vehicles that is most abundant in the DR Congo, could increase by nearly 1,500% by the year 2050, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

African countries rich in green energy minerals are generally mere producers and exporters of metal ores, and don’t add value through processing, UNCTAD says.

But some nations are starting to see progress. In the DR Congo, local cobalt refining and processing saw the country export $6 billion worth of processed cobalt in 2022 against $167 million in unprocessed cobalt.

China is the DR Congo’s largest market for both processed and raw cobalt.