Alex Benkenstein is the Programme Head of the Climate Change and Natural Resources Programme of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), a leading African think tank.
His work in SAIIA has focused on a number of resource governance-related issues, particularly in the fields of extractive industries governance, climate change and blue economy. Through his work with SAIIA he has collaborated with a number of partners in the public and private sector, for example, the World Gold Council, the African Union Commission, the Southern African Development Community Secretariat, and various UN agencies. He has extensive experience across the Africa region, with a focus on Southern and East Africa. Before joining SAIIA, Alex worked as a researcher for the South African consultancy Managing for Excellence and was subsequently appointed Head of Research for the NGO Regency Foundation Networx, where his work focused on climate change, particularly private sector corporate social responsibility responses to emerging issues surrounding climate change.
Africa’s significant green minerals including lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese and Rare Earth Elements are part of the core enablers of the transport revolution towards low-carbon economic development. The growing demand for electric vehicles and battery storage facilities is driving the demand for these minerals, especially Lithium and Cobalt. This has pushed their processed product prices to astronomical levels and could be a game changer in the economic development of countries endowed with deposits of these minerals. For example, lithium carbonate prices have increased over 10x since 2021. Also, the demand for battery and technology minerals is estimated to increase 500% by 2050 to meet the growing demand for clean energy technologies.
For Africa to seize opportunities in the battery and EV sector, this will require funding both in the backward (exploration, mining, services) and forward (e.g., battery and EV manufacturing) linkages development. And this is far beyond what public resources could provide. Private sector, particularly African private sector, investments will be essential for the continent to climb up the ladder in these important value chains.
This side event seeks to identify and analyse the key success factors that will enable Africa strategise to attract investment into the BEV sector towards optimising benefits from the value chain.
Tuesday 07 February 14:00 - 16:00 Level 1 Stage