In previous articles we have discussed traceability and the African supply chain. Truly, in an interconnected global economy, African supply chains play a pivotal role, contributing to local economies and global markets. However, as demand grows for transparency and ethical conduct, this article delves into the intersection of human rights and traceability, exploring their potential to ensure ethical practices in African supply chains.
The Landscape of African Supply Chains
African supply chains, spanning agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and crafts, contribute significantly to the economy. However, challenges persist, especially in industries with large migrant workforces. Labor exploitation, environmental concerns, and disruptions due to conflicts and famines are prevalent issues that need attention. Some businesses invested in the region see these risks and use them as an excuse to wring every dollar from the region at the expense of human suffering and the very land itself.
Another solution is required, one that provides for transparency.
Human Rights and Supply Chain Management
Historically, Africa has often been viewed by outside nations as a resource for quick gains, neglecting safety measures and exploiting both the environment and people. The narrative of subcontractors treating workers poorly while benefiting from mining operations is a common occurrence.
“The main companies are treating the subcontractors well, but the subcontractors don’t treat workers well. The mining companies are benefiting a lot, not the local people,” says a former security guard named Luc, who worked at the KCC mine.
In light of these abuses, there is an inexorable call to action that is forming an alliance between local governments, companies, and NGO’s (Non Governmental Organizations) to improve working conditions and wages. It won’t be easy, in fact it is going to require transparency and traceability to force and verify change.
The Catalyst of Traceability in Ethical Supply Chains
Traceability, the ability to track products across the supply chain, emerges as a potent tool for promoting and recording transparency. Palmyra, utilizing an immutable blockchain and transparent ledger, can collaborate with NGOs like the Fair Labor Association and the Global Compact Network to verify fair wage practices and safe working conditions. Once an enterprise meets the standards of these agencies Palmyra can verify the certification, showing compliance with both conscience and regulation. Some western markets will not accept certain products without this certification.
Addressing Challenges with Innovative Solutions
While traceability and ethical practices offer substantial benefits, challenges persist, particularly in establishing identities for migrant workers. It is a sad fact of the world that the invisible are most easily taken advantage of. Palmyra Platform, in collaboration with identity solutions like Atala Prism by Cardano, introduces a full identity solution.
As mentioned above, this allows us to verify and document fair working conditions.This technology addresses technological issues, provides market access, and solves logistical challenges in underserved markets. More importantly, it recognizes and documents the moral imperative of human rights and the dignity of work.
A Glimpse of Hope
Despite the challenges that exist, there is hope on the horizon. Western governments, influenced by public awareness, are demanding solutions for the plight of African workers. At a regional level, the European Union has passed legislation requiring importers of certain raw minerals and metal to carry out supply chain human rights due diligence in accordance with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance, emphasizing collaboration. It’s a step in the right direction. As legislation requiring supply chain transparency gains traction, with the EU leading the way, governments, NGOs, and the private sector are working together to provide solutions. In short, Western nations are supporting certification programs that encourage traceability and ethical practices.
As the governance landscape in Africa evolves positively, the convergence of human rights considerations and traceability solutions becomes a cornerstone in fostering transparency, accountability, and respect for human rights across diverse African supply chains. We all knew that we could do better, and now we have the tools to be better. The potential for change is real, fueled by collaborative efforts and innovative solutions like Palmyra Platform we can ensure the path of ethical change is the one that is taken.