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The renegotiation window: Resource contract renegotiations in the mining industry in Africa from 2000 to 2013

Sarah G. Katz-Lavigne

Resources Policy, 2017, vol. 51, issue C, 22-30

Abstract: This article explores the question of why countries in Africa increasingly took the decision to review and renegotiate their contracts with international mining companies during the period from 2000 to 2013. A policy window opened for African governments to renegotiate their mining contracts, brought on by the coming together of a problem, a set of policies, and developments in the political stream at the international, regional, and domestic levels. I suggest several explanations to account for these favourable dynamics at all three levels. The fact that African countries were briefly situated within a certain international and regional environment, combined with specific characteristics at the domestic level – including emergence from conflict and/or regime change, and a strong civil society presence calling for companies to sign agreements more in line with country interests – is an important determinant of renegotiation decisions. Cross-country comparisons and detailed case studies from Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo provide greater insight into these processes. This iterative, heuristic case-study approach yields greater insight into why some African countries decided to renegotiate their mining contracts. Yet the empirical evidence highlights the limitations to African countries' newfound “window of opportunity.” The recent drop in commodity prices, moreover, suggests that this window has closed and may not reopen for some time.

Keywords: Natural resource governance; Mining contracts; Sub-Saharan Africa; Limited statehood; Structural power (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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