EU signs MoU with Rwanda over critical materials

News Analysis




EU signs MoU with Rwanda over critical materials

The Memorandum of Understanding focuses on close cooperation with Rwanda and aims to “nurture sustainable and resilient value chains for critical raw materials”. 

Following similar signatures with other African nations including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Republic of Zambia at the Global Gateway Forum on 26 October 2023, and with Namibia on 8 November 2022, the EU now adds an MoU with Rwanda.  

Outside of Africa, similar MoUs on sustainable raw material value chains have been signed with Argentina, Canada, Chile, Greenland, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. Following the signature of the MoU, a roadmap with concrete actions is set to be developed together within six months to put the strategic partnership into practice.  

The MoU was signed with the EU’s Global Gateway investment plan in mind. The fund seeks to provide financial support in skills development in the mining sector, as well as cooperation to achieve sustainable and responsible raw materials. Overall, due diligence and traceability programmes are to be set in place to limit illegal trafficking of raw materials across porous borders. 

The plan aims to put into place €300Bn (US$324Bn) in public and private investments from 2021 to 2027, in the hope of creating long-term investment options, as opposed to relying on other streams of growth. EU investments in Rwanda, consisting of the European Investment Bank, France, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Greece, Sweden, Austria, and Denmark, already allocated €260M (US$260M) in funding for Rwanda over 2021-2024. 

Rwanda is a significant source of critical materials (either directly or indirectly), including the 3TG’s (tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold), and has the potential to add lithium and rare earth elements to that list. Despite being an important link in the value chain, the country only has one gold refinery, and a tantalum refinery, which is soon to be operational. The LuNa Smelter in Rwanda is currently the only operational tin smelter in Africa and stands to benefit from this partnership, following a similar MoU that the EU signed with the DRC, as it is expected to ensure a sustainable supply of raw materials.