I will convene a panel on ‘Labour (markets) in extractive industries’ at the European Conference on African Studies (ECAS 2017) in Basel, on 29 June- 1 July 2017. The panel is supported by the AEGIS Collaborative Research Group (CRG) on Resource Extraction in Africa and I’m very happy that dr. Boris Verbrugge and prof. Eleanor Fischer have agreed to act as discussants.
Some parts of rural Africa have once again become extremely attractive for foreign investors because of their oil, gas or mineral reserves. They have become part of what global capital has characterized as ‘usable Africa’ in a new wave of interest for the continent’s resources. Local people have few chances to profit from these investments. Besides some relatively marginal compensation, land lease and CSR benefits, a major opportunity lays in their ability to exchange labour power for income. Interestingly, the extractive sector has contributed to spectacular growth and holds extensive promises for the development of parts of rural Africa; yet the impact on local labour has been under-researched.
In the case of large-scale extraction, it has become increasingly difficult for local people to make use of labour opportunities because of the limited need for unskilled labour. Industry and governments respond to this with employment programmes and local content requirements. What are the implications of these initiatives for labour opportunities and labour conditions? In the case of artisanal and small-scale mining, a huge informal workforce exists. However, it is being put under pressure by formalization policies and joint corporate/ state interests. What are the characteristics of this workforce and how is it organized? How is this labour market regulated, what characterizes these joint state/corporate interests and how do people respond to these pressures? These are some of the questions the panel seeks to answer. The panel invites contributions on both large-scale mining, oil and gas extraction and artisanal and small-scale mining.