Congo. More agony on our screens. Why? It is not just the Tutsis getting back at the Hutus. It is also due to the world's appetite for mobile phones. Well, mobile phones and any other bit of electronic equipment that uses capacitors "particularly for applications requiring high performance, a small compact format and high reliability, ranging widely from hearing aids and pacemakers, to airbags, GPS, ignition systems and anti-lock braking systems in automobiles, through to laptop computers, mobile phones, video game consoles, video cameras and digital cameras". [Wikipedia]
The rebel Hutus under Laurent Nkunda fund their war effort by trading in minerals, especially Coltan. Their exports are supposed to be sanctioned from Congo, but they
go out through Rwanda no problem.
Bit like opium trade sustaining the Taleban.
Cabot Supermetals claim to be the "Global leader in production of tantalum and niobium", but they swear that they do not source their tantalum from Congo.
Rohm are at the top of a Google search for tantalum. They have a CSR page, but a search for Congo produces no results. Maybe they've never heard of it.
So I am going to ask Vodafone, my mobile supplier, whether they can assure me that they make sure their capacitors are free of the blood of Congolese children, women and men.
I put this in their Contact Us form:
Is Vodafone careful to avoid sourcing the tantalum in your capacitors from Congolese mines?
You can copy and paste that to your own phone supplier if you like.
It is the least we can do.