Accepted Paper:

Corporate Strategies, Property Rights, and Distributional Outcomes in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Copper and Cobalt Sector  


Sarah Katz-Lavigne (Carleton University; University of Groningen)

Paper short abstract:

Based on research conducted in Lubumbashi, DRC, this paper considers contestation over minerals, land, and employment, arguing that the manner in which property rights are governed is structured to a large extent by the local political culture and mine site geography of the former Katanga province.

Paper long abstract:

In a context in which the mining sector has been liberalized and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has allocated many formerly state-owned mining concessions to large-scale mining companies, the distribution of property rights is being actively reconfigured in the large-scale, copper- and cobalt- mining sector of recently subdivided Katanga province. Based on research conducted in Lubumbashi, DRC - a context of multiple, overlapping claims to resources - from August to December 2016, this paper consider several areas of contestation over property: minerals (copper and cobalt), residential and arable land, and employment. This paper argues that the manner in which property rights are governed is structured to a large extent by the local political culture of the former Katanga province - including its autochthony-based claims to resources; expectations of broad(er)-based redistribution of mining benefits; and personalised, neopatrimonial nature - and by mine site geography, and that these strategies and choices have distributional consequences. Local property rights regimes and the geography of mine sites are specific to this region, which has a unique historical and political trajectory, but to some extent they vary across mine sites. A key difference between sites is whether they are situated in an urban, semi-urban, or rural context, with the associated implications for political culture and property rights. In the semi-urban/urban context around Lubumbashi, customary claims are said to be weaker than in other areas where mining companies have expropriated land, which affects the nature and intensity of the on-going contestation over land around mine sites.

Panel P160
Political Cultures in the Central African Copperbelt