Magazine
Latest Issue

Congo’s coltan rush

The discovery of the mineral coltan—essential for mobile phones—in a remote region of Congo has been a mixed blessing

By Ben Rawlence   December 2007

The police chief of Kisengo, Katayo Katambo, glances sideways at a line of passing ragtag soldiers. They are a dishevelled lot, some in the uniform of the recently birthed Congolese army, some in jeans and filthy sleeveless shirts, but all bearing heavy arms. The last one, looking no older than 16, swings a mounted, belt-fed machine gun around his shoulders, peering lazily in our direction.

Surrounded by nervous men in his office, a soggy, thatched hut, Katambo looks at his deputy, whispering in Swahili, “Which are those? Are they the ones that came from Kongolo?” Then he remembers our presence…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect