Mobile Phones, Sustainable Development, and Ethics

business_ethics_highlights_2There are ‘conflict minerals’ in your phone. Encouraging electronics companies to avoid such minerals is one way to go, certainly. But is doing so best for people in places like the DRC? Are the alternatives to mining better or worse? When supply chains adjust to new regulations and new forms of certification, who wins & who loses? >>>

Blood in your mobile

The road from Kinshasa International Airport to the capital was as sluggish as an artery before a quadruple bypass.

As the hours passed and the taxi inched slowly along the fifteen-mile journey to our hotel, we started to ponder whether it might actually have been faster to walk.

Like the journey from the airport that day in May, progress on the issue of conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has taken a long time to travel a short way.

As supply chains go increasingly global, we rarely stop to ask the human costs of producing a smart-phone or other advanced electronic device. In the DRC, the use of coltan, a contraction of columbite and tantalite, and its derivative tantalum, to make capacitors for electronic goods becomes a problem when its sale funds a civil war and the social impact on the local population includes death, violence, rape, poor labor conditions and the breakdown of family units….


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