The rich veins of Zambia’s north-western copper belt have long epitomised the unfulfilled promise of Africa’s vast mineral wealth.
At independence in 1964, the land-locked nation boasted one of the highest per capita incomes in Africa thanks to the global post-war construction boom. Yet rather than shared prosperity, the voracious appetite for the reddish-brown metal used in buildings, cars and telephone cables fuelled inefficiency and graft.
By the early 1990s, Zambia had become a cautionary tale that helped inspire British economist Richard Auty’s famous theory of the “resource curse.”
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