By David Himbara
Old habits die hard – Rwanda continues to steal the Democratic Republic of Congo’s mineral wealth, per June 2021 UN Group of Experts’ Report. Smuggled minerals from DRC end up in Rwanda, from where the minerals are transported by RwandAir to overseas markets including Dubai and Hong Kong.
The latest report by the UN Group of Experts on DR Congo shows that it is business as usual – the flow of illicit minerals from DR Congo to Rwanda is still in high gear. The report provides all manner of accounts of how the smuggling across the border is executed. Begin with the case of owners of improvised mineral depots on the outskirts of DR congo’s towns of Goma, Minova and Kalungu. The owners of these structures informed the UN Group of Experts that the suppliers of coltan and cassiterite are Goma-based dealers who sell the minerals to Rwanda-based interests.
Additionally, DR Congo’s mining officials in North Kivu described to the UN Group of Experts how cross-border smugglers use false compartments on trucks to take the minerals across the border to Rwanda. A case in point is the March 2021 incident of a truck loaded with 24 sacks of coltan that ended in Rwanda via the Goma-Rubavu border. Predictably, Lake Kivu continues to be used as a smuggling route for stealing tin, tantalum and tungsten from Kalehe territory to Rwanda.
Meanwhile, gold smuggling also continued in 2020–2021. DR Congo’s gold was traded internationally via Rwanda to the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong, China. In December 2020, 5.103 kg of gold from South Kivu was exported to Dubai via Rwanda. In another case, 4.795kg of gold was exported in Hong Kong via Rwanda. Rwanda’s national airline, RwandAir, is the principal means of transporting DR Congo’s mineral wealth from Rwanda to international markets. Stay tuned.