Political unrest in Africa threatens global critical mineral supplies and their futures


The recent coup in Gabon exacerbates the challenge facing mineral-rich African countries, where political instability undermines their development prospects. Gabon is the world’s second largest producer of manganese, which is used to produce iron and steel and is key to the production of electric vehicles. Mineral-rich countries must develop processing facilities that turn raw metal ores into refined, usable products in order to create good manufacturing jobs and expand economic opportunities in the service sector.

The Gabon coup is the eighth in West and Central Africa in the past three years, following government overthrows in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Sudan. But until recently, Gabon had experienced no armed conflict since the end of the Cold War and just one failed coup attempt in 2019.

The wave of coups affecting critical mineral exporters (Guinea, Niger, and now Gabon) complicates efforts by Western governments to emphasize good governance, environmental protection, and labor standards in their shared approach to building critical mineral supply chains under the Minerals Security Partnership. The coup could scare off Western firms and increase dependence on China.

This PIIE Chart is adapted from Cullen S. Hendrix’s blog, Gabon coup complicates country’s critical mineral ambitions.

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