Akram the hairdresser | Congo's ethical mineralsTuesday, February 14, 2017 Emmanuel Freudenthal/IRIN
According to the most conservative estimates, more than a million people directly depend on artisanal miners in eastern Congo, with many more indirectly benefiting from their business.
A recent study by researchers at the United Nations University suggests that child mortality in villages located near mines in the region has more than doubled since Dodd-Frank was enacted, and it is clear that the effects go far beyond just the miners.
In Kisengo, Joseph Akram leant close to a client, a razor blade in his hand, expertly shaving away the smallest hairs for a perfect cut. The afternoon heat was gathering under his tarp-covered salon. It was spotlessly clean and colourfully decorated with posters of various hairstyles. The barber recalled that in 2007, “coltan prices were around $50 per kilo, but now they are… $22. Imagine! Life has become hard.”
“Because we depend on the diggers, if they don’t find revenues, we also suffer,” he explained. “Everyone here depends on MMR,” said Akram. “But here, there’s no competition, there’s no company that can compete to increase prices. In economics, we say that if demand is higher, prices increase, and without demand, prices decrease.”