The Power of We: Congo Calling

Yesterday was Blog Action Day, and I’m late again! But I’m using the opportunity to highlight the Congo Calling campaign. Mobile phones are powerful tools for communication and bringing people together, but they leave a bloody trail. I lifted the following from the Congo Calling website, where there is more information on the issues and how to take action. 14-20 October is also Congo Week.

Congo Calling

We demand fairtrade food and fairtrade clothes. It is time to demand fairtrade phones.

What has this to do with the Congo? Well, every mobile phone contains the mineral Coltan, which is mined in the Congo. This natural wealth could bring many benefits to the ordinary people of the Congo, but instead it is funding armed conflict and horrific abuses.

Congo Calling’s vision is for a peaceful and just Congo, where people can live in stable and prosperous communities, where children are not enlisted, where women are not raped as an instrument of war, and where miners work for fair wages in human conditions.

Mobile phones are currently part of the problem, but could be part of the solution. Our first aims, therefore, are:

  • the UK government leads enforcement of pre-existing UN regulations on illicit mineral trade;
  • mineral supply chains are vigorously regulated by sympathetic governments; 
  • those who exploit the natural wealth and the people of the Congo for their own gain face sanctions, whether large corporations or corrupt individuals;
  • manufacturers make conflict-free phones that include minerals from the Congo;
  • purchasers and users of mobile phones are aware of the situation in the Congo;
  • the ethical consumer choice is transparent and appealing.

Congo Calling was launched off the back of Bandi Mbubi’s thought-provoking talk given at TEDxExeter on the 20th April 2012 – to a standing ovation. There was so much enthusiasm and interest in working towards fairtrade phones and clean mineral campaigns, and a very real human momentum has built up in response to Bandi’s talk.

A seed was sown, an idea worth spreading. Please use your mobile phone and be part of the solution.

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