Nr. 172 – Swiss Transit Trade and Zambia

Thanks to the initiative and support of SNIS (Swiss Network of International Studies) this issue of the Afrika-Bulletin is now available in English.

This Bulletin discusses Switzerland’s economic relations with the South; the authors specifically examine this topic using Zambia and its copper as examples. The contributions are part of an international research project funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) and led by Basel social anthropologist Rita Kesselring. The research project “Valueworks: Effects of Financialization along the Copper Value Chain” follows copper’s path from the mines to the end buyer and describes the parties involved in this process. It is shown that the extent of the participation of Swiss companies in the Zambian copper sector exceeds all expectations.

This finding makes the under-regulation of the commodities trading centre Switzerland even more problematic and shows that a broad political discussion is urgently needed. Our conference The Copper Value Chain – Life in Zambia, the Swiss Commodity Hub, and Responsible Business of 8 December 2018 offers a forum in this respect.

Barbara Müller

What Zambia and Switzerland Have in Common
Copper and Resistance to Extractivism
The two-year research project Valueworks, funded by SNIS (Swiss Network for International Studies), investigates the economic relations between Switzerland and Zambia in the field of copper mining and trading. The starting point was the massive increase in transit trade transactions via Switzerland, which have an impact on the entire value chain, as project leader Rita Kesselring explains.

Extractivism à la Suisse
The Role of Swiss Companies in the Copper Value Chain

The Swiss public is becoming increasingly aware that trading companies based in Switzerland play an important and at times problematic role in countries around the world. Gregor Dobler and Rita Kesselring follow the path of copper produced in Zambia from the mines to the ports in southern Africa and demonstrate the far-reaching part played by Swiss companies.

Geneva, Zug, Lugano
The World of Swiss Commodity Traders — and its Global Significance
Switzerland’s significance in global commodity trading is unknown to many people, including a large part of the the Swiss population. And with the exception of Glencore, only a few people are familiar with the internationally active and high turnover commodity companies based in Switzerland that make a lot of money. With his contribution, Stefan Leins wants to create some clarity.

Working in Zambia’s Mines after Privatization
Changing Meanings for Miners
Privatization has significantly changed Zambia’s mining sector. For multinational companies, profit maximization is the main goal. This fact has consequences on many levels, particularly on miners’ working conditions. The Zambian anthropologist James Musonda examines what this means for mine workers.

Currently in Zambia
Fight against Corruption and Loss of Democracy
The current situation in Zambia is characterised by mismanagement, corruption, indebtedness and an increasingly shrinking democratic space. Civil society organizations are resisting these developments, as Barbara Müller shows in her report.

Solifonds Campaign
Mufulira Wants to Finally Have Clean Water
Aurora Garçia introduces the current campaign