Canada's Role in Promoting Mining and Development Policy Reforms in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Jacobs, John Herman




Accessing sufficient capital on terms conducive to development is a major challenge in achieving Sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) mining potential. The effects of neoliberal policy reforms promoted by the IMF and World Bank and other Western actors has ensured that mining and development policies are dominated by foreign direct investment (FDI)-led approaches. The disappointing development benefits generated in SSA by the 2000s commodity boom has led to a re-evaluation of these FDI-led development models and to SSA calls for country-led development strategies wherein states play an increased role.

Canada has become a major source of mining capital and policy advice for SSA. This dissertation examines Canada’s interventions in SSA mining and development policy reforms, specifically related to the promotion of bilateral investment treaties (BITs), global mining policy diffusion networks and best practices. The core question is whether Canada’s interventions support the development of the policy options needed in SSA to ensure that mining contributes to sustainable social and economic development.

Chapter 1 provides an orientation to mining and development issues in SSA, examining the continued influence of the FDI-led model that was central to the World Bank’s 1990s mining policy reforms that focused on generating revenue and rejected state-led socio-economic development mining policies. Chapter 2 examines Canada’s recent conclusion of nine BITs with SSA countries. The chapter analyzes the potential development impacts of Canada’s BITs, finding that they are particularly economically liberalizing and that they undermine the ability of SSA states to generate socio-economic benefits. Chapter 3 examines the role played by Canadian funded institutions and networks in the diffusion of the FDI-led mining and development model. The chapter contends that Canada is playing a central role in reducing the parameters of what are considered viable policy options for SSA states.

Overall, this dissertation argues that Canada’s interventions have promoted policy reforms that focus on increasing and protecting opportunities for Canadian registered mining companies and that these policies undermine the ability of host countries to ensure that FDI contributes to economically sustainable development, thereby undermining the emergence of developmental states and regional initiatives such as the Africa Mining Vision.


International Law and Relations




Carleton University

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Public Policy

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Theses and Dissertations

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