Journal of
African Studies and Development

  • Abbreviation: J. Afr. Stud. Dev
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2189
  • DOI: 10.5897/JASD
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 237

Full Length Research Paper

Small-scale mining and child labour in Kolwezi, Democratic Republic of Congo

Godelive Kusimwa Batano
  • Godelive Kusimwa Batano
  • Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS), University of Bayreuth, Germany, Faculty of Economics and Management, Université Catholique de Bukavu, DRC.
  • Google Scholar
Martin Doevenspeck
  • Martin Doevenspeck
  • Department of Geography, Faculty of Biology, Chemistry & Earth Sciences, University of Bayreuth, Germany.
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Nene Morisho Mwana Biningo
  • Nene Morisho Mwana Biningo
  • Faculty of Economics and Management, Université Catholique de Bukavu, DRC.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 29 March 2023
  •  Accepted: 06 June 2023
  •  Published: 31 October 2023


Child labour is a critical issue in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The case of Kolwezi in Lualaba is of interest because the area is known as the capital of cobalt, a strategic mineral for the transition to a low-carbon economy. Since 2017, global demand for cobalt has been soaring and this raises the question of working conditions in the ASM. This paper attempts to provide a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of child labour in artisanal cobalt mining. The objective is to analyse the political and socio-economic drives of child labour in Kolwezi. By drawing on the current state of the literature and reports on child labour in the mines, as well as field survey, we investigate the social, political, and economic causes of child labour. Results suggest that children's involvement in the artisanal labour market is caused by poverty status, parental conceptions, income inequalities and market imperfections. The implication is that a holistic approach is required to effectively address the problem of child labour. Such an approach must consider both the situation of the child and the household where child labour occurs. The study emphasizes the importance of sensitization of parents and a holistic approach in all initiatives to eradicate child labour in ASM.


Key words: child labour, ASM, critical modern slavery, pivotal child.