University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Graduate Workshops in Economic and Social History > Years of Turbulence, Years of Hope: Central African Copperbelt and the Industrial Development in Congo-Léopoldville and Zambia, from the Political Independence to the Economic Nationalization

Years of Turbulence, Years of Hope: Central African Copperbelt and the Industrial Development in Congo-Léopoldville and Zambia, from the Political Independence to the Economic Nationalization

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The economic nationalization occurred in Congo-Léopoldville and Zambia roughly after five years of their independence, in 1966 and 1969 respectively.  During the political clouts and the economic vicissitudes that took place in both countries, the Central African Copperbelt (CAC) contributed to a far extent in shaping the historical events. However, these fateful years lie between the political independence to the nationalization of mining companies have been received little attention from historians.  The quest for Africanization the economy and from the European domination became extremely fiercer than the political independence. A group of factors explain the challenges faced by national governments in dirigisme their national economy such as; the global economic relationships, capital flight and foreign direct investment, global copper prices, Africa’s lacking to the technical experience and management of mining companies. This paper will investigate the colonial/national perceptions of industrial development in late colonial/ the immediate post-colonial years, more specifically the weight of the CAC in the colonial/national contexts, from development planning to implementation. A part of this perception could be traced since the colonial authorities Belgians/British set up decennial developmental plans in the 1940s and 50s which extended to another long-term plan but was curtailed by the advent of independence. On the other hand, the national authorities replaced these plans with the transnational and first development plans in Zambia and a chaotic political situation in Congo. Significantly, there were high expectations by African in both countries for reaping the benefits of independence, higher wages and advancement of labour, and this might explain the crucial role of mining areas. Such a role need to be examined from comparative contexts, not limited to the mining industry, but significantly to the CAC role in the question of industrial development in the early years of independence.

This talk is part of the Graduate Workshops in Economic and Social History series.

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