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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Chartered Companies and the Development of the Tin Industry in Belgian Africa, 1900-1939
Author:Hillman, John
Periodical:African Economic History
Geographic terms:Congo (Democratic Republic of)
trading companies
tin mining
History and Exploration
Economics and Trade
Development and Technology
Abstract:The power of chartered companies based upon mineral exploitation meant that the Belgian Congo (Zaire) followed a distinctive pattern of colonial economic development. Excessive concentration of power in the hands of a few companies, weakening of the autonomous power of the State, coercion of labour, and the draining of resources back to the metropolis, have all provided a basis for severe criticism of Belgian colonial rule. This paper addresses some of these issues by examining the course of the development of a hitherto neglected mineral, tin. Quite insignificant prior to World War I, by World War II the Congo had become the largest tin producer in Africa. Furthermore, the Congo was the only new producer of any significance to emerge during the interwar period. Paradoxically, this did not occur when prices were rising rapidly during the 1920s, but during the depression of the 1930s. The Congo became significant just at the point at which the production restrictions imposed by the International Tin Committee on the established producers had resulted in a recovery of tin prices. These issues are considered following a discussion of the specific features of the chartered company model and the ways in which it was adapted to the different regions (Katanga, Maniema-Kivu, Ruanda). Notes, ref.