Stage One: Blaming the African State
The narrative of African countries losing control over their mining sectors to foreign companies dates back to post-independence times. Initially, African governments, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), took steps to nationalize mining resources. However, the mid-1970s saw a shift in perception, with external economic shocks and internal mismanagement leading to economic stagnation. This period marked the beginning of blaming African states for their economic woes, focusing on government corruption and mismanagement, while largely ignoring external factors like fluctuating commodity prices and the impact of the oil crisis.
Stage Two: Pathologization and Liberalization
Subsequent analyses of African economic stagnation in the 1980s predominantly criticized the interventions of African states in the economy, promoting a narrative of systemic corruption and inefficiency. This viewpoint set the stage for liberalization and privatization policies, driven by international financial institutions. These policies were grounded in the belief that reducing state control and opening up markets to foreign investment would revive the mining sector.
Stage Three: Return of Transnational Corporations
The result of these policy shifts was the re-emergence of transnational corporations as the dominant players in the African mining industry. The liberalization policies facilitated the entry of these corporations into the sector, once again reducing the control of African states over their own mineral resources. This trend reversed the initial post-independence drive for nationalization and state control, leading to a scenario where foreign companies have substantial sway over the mining sectors in various African countries.
This three-stage process highlights a complex interplay of internal governance issues, external economic pressures, and global policy trends that led to the current state of the African mining industry, where sovereignty over resources is significantly influenced by foreign entities.