Equity Group Holdings CEO Dr. James Mwangi wants Tesla to set up a plant to manufacture batteries for its electric vehicles in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) instead of importing cobalt and other key raw materials from the country. Mwangi on October 5 disclosed that Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the wealthiest man in the world, is among investors being wooed by Equity as part of its plans to increase Africa’s productivity.
DRC is home to around 70% of the world’s cobalt deposits according to various estimates. Cobalt is used in lithium-ion batteries, and powers everything from smartphones to electric cars.
“We’re talking to investors like Elon Musk of Tesla and telling them that instead of importing cobalt, why not set up a factory in DRC for electric vehicle batteries?” Mwangi noted.
“Why can’t he also make copper wires there instead of sending copper ore to China from where he imports wires?” he posed.
Equity has invested heavily in DRC since the acquisition of BCDC and subsequent launch of Equity BCDC. Among other initiatives, it has led trade missions that have seen numerous Kenyan companies commit to multi-million shilling investments in the country with a population of over 90 million.
Manufacturing and logistics is also one of six strategic pillars in Equity’s recently launched Africa Recovery and Resilience Plan, a framework designed to help transform Africa’s economy.
Mwangi’s new comments echo sentiments he shared at the Africa CEO Forum earlier in 2022 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. He explained his confidence in the DRC market despite challenges such as poor infrastructure, noting the size of the market and natural resources that present numerous opportunities in agriculture, energy, manufacturing and trade.
He also highlighted the admission of the DRC to the East African Community (EAC).
“We took DRC in context of it joining the East African Community. So it is not DRC as standalone; it is DRC becoming part of a 300 million population market within the East African Community,” he noted.
Mwangi has previously stated that he expects the DRC to overtake Kenya as Equity’s biggest market by 2025.