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Hussam Hussein
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Hi and thanks for visiting my profile :) My name is Hussam, I'm a blogger-researcher-journalist, member of the European Youth Press’ Middle East and North Africa Committee (MENAC). I studied in Italy (Trieste/Gorizia), England (SOAS, London), and Poland (College of Europe). Academically, my background is mainly in Diplomacy and International Relations, with a focus on Environment. My interests are climate change, water, development and international cooperation.


Your Mobile is Killing Gorillas!!!

Published 26th July 2010 - 10 comments - 4363 views -


Dear fellow bloggers,


I would like to share with you something I learned from Pauline, a collegue of mine during the course I had in Geneva this summer.



Our every day products, such as cell phones, laptop computers, Play Station, video cameras, all have one thing in common: coltan. Colombo-tantalite, commonly known as coltan, is a black and heavy ore, which the high-tech industrial sector has a particular interest in. The metal tantalum, extracted from tantalite, conducts heat and electricity effectively, is very malleable as well as resistant to corrosion: all of which makes it an important component in the production of electronics, more specifically, the production of capacitors, which are destined from 18 to 35% to wireless communication sector.

Unfortunately, in the Kivu region, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the exploitation of coltan forms part of a complex dynamic in which corrupted politicians, armed militia, and overseas multinational companies based in the EU and Asia are linked.

The logging activities of mining camps continually contribute to the degradation of the native gorillas habitat as well as the displacement of locals, workers, and sometimes even slaves. "As many of these camps and militia groups rely heavily on bushmeat, many of the national parks in the region have lost up to 80% of their larger mammals."

According to the NGO Global Witness and UNO, incomes gained by the exploitation of the natural resources of the country (the DRC does not only export coltan but also diamonds, gold, cobalt, wood, and charcoal) is allowing the financing of armed groups and contributing to conflict in the area, which has caused the death of approximately 5.4 million of Congolese people since 1998 (International Rescue Committee).  

But as a consumer, you too can act by choosing to avoid the purchase of new cell phones when your service providers attract your attention with new offers, or buying electronics only when you really need to. You can also participate or create projects such as the one established at a zoo in Prague, in the Czech Republic, where visitors cell phones are recycled by a company in order to help the Dja Reserve in Cameroon, that is home to many protected species, including our beloved gorillas.



Category: Technology | Tags:


  • Andrea Arzaba on 26th July 2010:

    Thank you for this information Hussam. Now let’s spread it all over the place!

  • Hussam Hussein on 26th July 2010:

    Glad that you liked it, Andrea!

  • Helena Goldon on 26th July 2010:

    Hussam, thanks for mentioning it - this topic happens to be also a part of last weeks BBC report on Africa’s commodities:

  • Hussam Hussein on 26th July 2010:

    Wow Helena, this link is very interesting… thanks again!

  • Hussam Hussein on 28th July 2010: an interesting article on the same topic!

  • Clare Herbert on 28th July 2010:

    What really bothers me about this issue is the way that corporations sell these products. Take mobile phones for example. Companies often offer a free upgrade (i.e. a new phone) every year. And, phones are built to break and need replacing thus ensuring that the company doesn’t loose any business. The side effect is that Coltan reserves are exploited and the gorillas tormented with mines.

    Companies could easily build sturdier phones and charge more for them, and make a profit from a loyal long-term consumer base. I, for one, hate getting a new phone and navigating my way around it.

    Of course, consumer have a choice here. But, I think this is one area where corporations need to take action, not people.

  • Hussam Hussein on 29th July 2010:

    Clare, well said! wink I think it’s part of today’s consumistic way of the economic, as you highlighted. But it is not sustainable anymore

  • Clare Herbert on 29th July 2010:

    Thanks Hussam. It did feel good to get that off my chest! smile

  • Luan Galani on 29th July 2010:

    I had no idea on this, Hussam. Thanks for informing us. The situation is much worse than I thought.

    @Clare, I strongly believe corporations need to take action. But it falls to us too. The choice is ours to demand new standards.

  • Clare Herbert on 30th July 2010:

    @Luan: I reckon there’s a great entrepreurial opportunity there too though - I wish someone would start a company doing eco and community friendly electronics. You guys got any recomendations?

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