Resource Nationalism in Southern Africa: Policy Challenges and Emerging Opportunities
This project strives to build a partnership for collaborative research on the impact of Resource Nationalism (RN) upon the extractive industries of Southern Africa, with the aim of informing and strengthening national policy processes and their developmental outcomes.
Research on RN in the mineral-rich countries in Southern Africa has typically been siloed at the national level, with little dialogue occurring among mining stakeholders in neighbouring states. As the pace of regulatory change has accelerated in the 2010s, critical knowledge gaps have opened up and policy communities have faced increasing challenges in making evidence-based decisions. There is now a pressing need for comparative research of RN experiences to support policy debates.
This project is the first multi-country, multi-partner investigation of contemporary RN in Southern Africa, and its findings will significantly inform current national and regional debates. The project will address critical knowledge gaps and mobilize research findings by engaging with researchers, policy makers, mining sector actors and civil society organisations as both key informants and beneficiaries of research.
The partnership brings together leading researchers and organisations in Canada and Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the three mineral-rich countries which constitute the project’s case studies. The partnership is multidisciplinary in approach and assembles a rich diversity of experiences, research skills, disciplinary expertise, and network linkages.
The project’s specific goals are to:
- advance research and debate on issues of contemporary RN and the extractive industries in Africa and internationally, by contributing to knowledge on empirical case studies, research methodologies and theoretical frameworks;
- consolidate and expand the capacities of the partners in their research, knowledge mobilization and policy engagement activities;
- train emerging scholars, researchers, and activists with the aim of strengthening their research, networking and knowledge mobilization capacities; and,
- strengthen links between researchers and diverse mining sector stakeholders, with the dual aims of strengthening the governance of, and enhancing developmental gains from, the region’s extractive industries.
Since the early 2000s, resurgent international minerals markets, disappointing tax revenues and weak economic spillovers from the mining sector have contributed to a rising wave of ‘Resource Nationalism’ (RN) in mineral-rich countries. RN refers to the use of discretionary policies by governments to regulate and control the resource industries with the aim of achieving economic and political benefits. While governments, local business and civil society in many countries have called for the strengthening of benefits from mining, states’ policy interventions have differed significantly in practice and have resulted in diverse development outcomes.
In East and Southern Africa there has been renewed focus by governments, civil society organisations and international development agencies on how to harness the extractive sector’s potential. However, these national-level debates typically have been isolated from – and mostly uninformed by – each other. Evidence surrounding recent policy practices and their outcomes has been scattered, anecdotal and thin. As the pace of regulatory change has accelerated in the 2010s, critical knowledge gaps have opened up and policy communities have faced increasing challenges in making evidence-based decisions. There is now a pressing need for comparative research of RN experiences to support policy debates and strengthen dialogue among mining stakeholders in neighbouring states This project seeks to address knowledge gaps in RN policy debates in East and Southern Africa and facilitate the flow of information across national borders. It does this by building a partnership of leading RN researchers and organisations in Canada and Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, three mineral-rich countries where policy debates and innovations currently feature prominently. The leadership team represents diverse areas of specialisation including Political Science, Sociology, Economics, Business Administration and Law. This team is supported by research collaborators from the three case study countries who bring a range of specialist knowledge and advocacy skills to the project.