Challenging Corruption

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Transparency to Counter Informal Payments in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Artisanal Cobalt Sector and Understand its Impacts on Communities

IMPACT’s Challenging Corruption project aims to make corruption and its impacts in Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) artisanal cobalt supply chain more visible. The project supports civil society to monitor corruption more effectively in the sector and leverage analytics for change.

How is corruption hidden in DRC’s artisanal cobalt supply chain?

Everyday corruption in the form of illegal and informal payments in DRC’s artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) cobalt sector is not visible. Its impacts—which vary depending on one’s identity—cannot be effectively monitored nor evaluated by anti-corruption advocates in the interests of artisanal mining communities.

Artisanal mining is largely informal across the country and makes actors in the supply chain, including miners, cooperatives, and even traders, vulnerable to corruption. Artisanal cobalt actors including mining cooperatives and warehouse managers, are being charged additional taxes and fees which have no legal basis. According to an OECD report, up to 20 percent of the total value of production is being extorted from artisanal cobalt miners through unofficial payments by cooperatives or state agents.

Charging artisanal supply chain actors’ exorbitant taxes or fees discourages them from participating in the legal supply chain. If the price for legal production and trade becomes too burdensome, it dissuades legality and therefore participation in any ongoing efforts to establish responsible supply chains.

As ore is processed within DRC to extract cobalt, the fiscal regime isn’t contributing to transnational smuggling. Mining cooperatives and depots direct artisanal cobalt production towards the processing entities, who have the authorization to export to refineries. However, informal taxes and payments are being imposed onto the upstream artisanal cobalt supply chain, contributing to corruption.

How will the Challenging Corruption project increase transparency?

The project seeks to constrain opportunities for corruption and incentivize integrity by making corruption and its impacts more visible through three key pillars.

1. To make corruption more visible:

Challenging Corruption leverages IMPACT’s Mapping Payments project which used a consultative, multi-stakeholder process to map all payments, fees, and taxes applicable to ASM cobalt supply chains and their legal basis, resulting in Payment Maps. These Payment Maps will be widely distributed, providing supply chain actors and ASM communities with a new tool to track informal and illegal payments.

A comprehensive and robust data framework for the artisanal cobalt sector will be created to understand corruption at the individual and community levels. The creation of an Anti-Corruption Index for ASM Cobalt, and its compilation and analysis against other data streams such as traceability, fiscal payments, anti-corruption, and socioeconomic indicators will allow data to tell a story and highlight red flags in the community and supply chain.

2. To support advocates, civil society, and communities with the tools to monitor for corruption more effectively:

Local stakeholders will be supported to collect data and provided with training on how to easily interpret, understand, and learn from the analytics. Once knowledge is generated as to what the data means, including how to spot potential red flags, these stakeholders will be guided on how to leverage the analytics generated for effective, bottom-led actions for change.

3. To understand incentives around participation in data collection:

Together with private sector project supporters, we will examine the incentives needed for stakeholders to participate in data collection to tackle corruption and maintain responsible artisanal cobalt supply chains.

Implementing partners

IMPACT is partnering with Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)-DRC, Minespider, and Solidaridad to implement the project.


Challenging Corruption is one of the winners of the Powering a Just Energy Transition Green Minerals Challenge (JET Minerals Challenge). The JET Minerals Challenge is run by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Recent Highlights

Challenging Corruption Brochure Cover EN

Challenging Corruption

December 2023
Learn more about how the Challenging Payments project supports transparency in Democratic Republic of Congo.