A Mobile application for tracking and verification of cobalt ores in artisanal mines a case study of democratic republic of Congo
Kakira, Destin Nsarhaza
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Tracking and verification of Cobalt in artisanal mines is enormously challenging in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Several artisanal mining companies have been disseminated throughout the country, some of these companies are involved in illegal exports and branding of Cobalt ores. Consequently, these unlawful activities are leaching a fifth of all Cobalt revenue away from the state budget. It is estimated that between 2013 and 2016, over $1.3 billion of payment by mining companies to Congo’s tax agencies never reached the national treasury. This research used an online questionnaire that was distributed to 95 mine inspectors and mining officers to give a comprehensive study of characteristics of a licit Cobalt ores bag, methods and technology currently used to track and verify Cobalt ores bags and how a mobile application for tracking and verification of Cobalt bags can be designed, developed and tested. Google analytics tools were used to collect data from respondents. The results were used to attain the system requirements and design of an Android application for tracking and verification of Cobalt ores in artisanal mines. Agile software development methodology was used because it allows iteration and gets the user involved in the entire process of development. The Android application was integrated with a back-end application which gives a synopsis of Cobalt ores bags legally extracted and vetted artisanal mines. Testing and validation was done on the final prototype by the potential users of the application. Mine inspectors, mining officers and ultimately the government tax collector agencies stand to gain by using the mobile application to ensure that a Cobalt ores bag has been extracted from a vetted artisanal mine. It allows the government to maximize the revenue from tax on Cobalt extracted from artisanal mines and minimize significantly the illegal exports and rebranding of Cobalt ores in artisanal mining sector. The proposed system achieved imposing results in terms of functionalities. Respondents stated that the system solved the problem related to tracking and verification of Cobalt ores in artisanal mines. 100 % of respondents were able to scan or generate the QR code. It crucial to note that if the system is adopted by the government through the Ministry of mines, illegal exportation and branding of Cobalt ores can be significantly reduced.