Rwanda is turning to blockchain technology to disrupt the supply of conflict metal tantalum. To help the accomplish the objective, the country’s government has teamed up with Circulor, a U.K.-based blockchain firm specializing in smart contracts.
Francis Gatare, CEO of Rwandan Mining and a minister in the country’s federal government, announced Oct 16, 2018, that work has already started to deploy blockchain in the country’s war against conflict metal tantalum.
The move, he said, will allow the government and other concerned organizations to maintain a transparent record of the movement of tantalum as it moves along the supply chain.
“Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board today has been introduced to a new and innovative mineral traceability solution using blockchain technology. The initiative is already being implemented by at least one exporter from Rwanda,” he announced, according to a press release by Circulor.
Rwanda is a world leader in the production of tantalum concentrates and metals. Simply put, tantalum is chemical element most commonly used in consumer electronics such as smartphones and laptops. Tantalum mines are an important source of revenue for the Rwanda, which is currently undergoing a serious economic crisis.
However, many of the mines in the neighborhood are often linked to the exploitation of the local population — e. Serious allegations involving child labor, indiscriminate killing, and sexual violence are too common for the Rwandan government and the international community to ignore.
The collaboration between Circulor and the country’s government will enable companies to use the former’s blockchain platform to tag tantalum extracted from Rwandan mines and trace their progress along the supply chain. This is expected to prove quite useful for investors, regulatory agencies, and buyers to buy only conflict-free tantalum.
Elaborating its role in the collaboration with the Rwandan government, Circulor stated that it will also keep a tab on “all the production stages before a smartphone or computer reaches the consumer.” This is in addition to the company’s commitment to ensuring that miners in the African nation comply with the strict international guidelines that prohibit the procurement of conflict materials in the supply chain. Circulor explained:
“Smart Contracts, or code embedded in the blockchain, will enable the supply chain to verify each transaction or event that is posted. The platform is built on Hyperledger Fabric, the open source enterprise-grade private permissioned ledger code developed in a global collaboration, hosted by The Linux Foundation.”
It is worth mentioning here that while blockchain has the technological capacity to ensure transparency in a supply chain, it is not immune from that deliberate compromises that can be made using manipulated data.
Sure, once the data enters the blockchain, it becomes transparent and accessible to all concerned parties. However, the effectiveness of the technology in curbing the supply of conflict tantalum is as good as the data provided to it.
If suppliers feed inaccurate data to the blockchain using whatsoever means, the newly deployed system won’t be nearly as effective as one would hope for. That is not, however, an issue stemming from any inadequacy in the technology. Rather, it will be the same old case of corruption caused by flawed governance.
Featured image by dorusoftware