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Research Report

The developmental implications of Sino-African economic and political relations: A preliminary assessment for the case of Zambia

George Schoneveld
Laura German
Davison Gumbo
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2014
Pages: 47
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    When Zambia gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964, the new government quickly nationalized the private and foreign-owned mines in an attempt to better capture the developmental potential of the sector. Unfortunately, in the mid-1970s, the copper sector collapsed as global copper prices fell to historic lows, where they would remain for the next two decades. From being the primary source of government revenue, the country’s mines became a drain on the government’s fiscal resources. Further exacerbated by periods of high oil prices, the government’s external borrowings grew beyond the capacity to repay. Having previously ranked as a middle-income...

  2. (pp. 3-8)

    The first commercial mines opened in 1928 and were operated by two private companies, Roan Selection Trust and Anglo American Corporation, in the copper-rich area of what is now known as the Copperbelt. Under British colonial rule, and especially the ill-fated Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the area served as a source of mineral wealth that drove the social and economic development of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). After political independence in 1964, the two privately owned mining companies were nationalized and, in 1982, were combined to form the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) (Fraser and Lungu 2007). Under state ownership,...

  3. (pp. 9-14)

    Diplomatic relations between China and Zambia have evolved alongside wider Sino-African cooperation, from China’s ideologically driven support for liberation struggles across the continent to its ‘Going Out’ policy, which placed economic development at the center of cooperation. China’s presence in Zambia goes back to the pre-independence period, when China provided economic and material assistance to one of the opposition parties in Zambia’s struggle for independence (AFRODAD 2008). Close diplomatic relations were forged soon after independence, monumentalized by China’s support for the construction of the 1860 km Tanzania–Zambia Railway (TAZARA), stretching from Dar-es-Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi. The railway, largely aimed...

  4. (pp. 15-31)

    Since privatization of ZCCM, the copper sector has been dominated by seven foreign copper mining operations (Table 9). The bulk of copper produced in recent years has been attributable to three mining operations in particular, the Konkola Copper Mines, Kansanshi Copper Mining and Mopani Copper Mines.

    With new capital injections, the commissioning of new mines and recovering copper prices from 2004 onwards (bar a slump in 2008–2009), copper production slowly returned to the levels of the early 1970s, which averaged about 750,000 tons of contained copper per annum (Figure 5). In 2010, Zambia recorded its highest ever annual copper...

  5. (pp. 32-33)

    While China and Zambia have had diplomatic ties dating back to the liberation struggle in the 1960s, and China has supported important development projects in the country since, the relationship gained a new intensity over the 2000s. This coincided with China’s ‘Going Out’ policy and the initiation of the FOCAC, which sought to stimulate Chinese investments in Africa. The key areas of interest for Chinese companies, many of which are state owned, have been the mining sector and, to a lesser extent, the agricultural sector. Chinese companies have been investing heavily in mineral prospecting, copper mining and smelting, and industries...