Accepted Paper:

Indigenous Capital Formation in the 'Old' and 'New' Copperbelts: the political economy of mine suppliers and contractors in Neoliberal Zambia  


Alexander Caramento (Trent University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines processes of, and impediments to, indigenous capital formation among mine suppliers and contractors in Zambia’s Copperbelt and North Western Provinces.

Paper long abstract:

Over the past decade, a body of literature has emerged calling for the establishment of forward and backward linkages to resource extraction on the African continent. The expectation is that the formation of local value chains tied to processes of resource extraction and processing will create employment, develop technical capacities, encourage technology transfers, and ultimately lead to industrialization and economic diversification. But little is said of the possibilities for indigenous capital formation that might emerge in response to fostering backward linkages. Arguably, it is a class of local capitalists that stands to potentially benefit from "local content" policies. However, the implementation of such policies is complicated by a legacy of neoliberal structural adjustment that has devastated Africa's industrial capacity and transferred control of resource extraction into foreign, private ownership. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Zambia.

In Zambia, local mine suppliers and contractors have sought to secure more business from the copper mines. In response, Zambian policymakers have engaged in discussions around the feasibility of local content regulations, as part of a recent trend towards increasing "resource nationalism" in the governance of mineral extraction. Through an examination of the experiences of Zambian contractors and suppliers on the "new" (i.e. North Western Province) and "old" Copperbelts, this paper endeavors to address two key research questions. First, what are the patterns of indigenous capital formation in mine supply and contracting in neoliberal Zambia? Second, how have efforts to regulate mining firms over the past decade effected local mine suppliers and contractors?

Panel P077
(Infra)structures of Extraction in Africa