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Ben Radley

Political Economist

My research centres on processes of economic transformation in Central Africa, with a focus on labour dynamics and the role played by Northern corporations.

Technologies and Transformations: Traces From a Collective Research Project (2022) The Extractive Industries and Society

"Yet, and perhaps above all, the articles in this special issue highlight how neither the adopters of technologies, nor the workers impacted by their adoption, are passive actors beholden to structural forces beyond their control."

Productivity and Profitability: Investigating the Economic Impact of Gold Mining Mechanisation in Kamituga, DR Congo (2022) The Extractive Industries and Society

"In Kamituga, local forms of gold mining are far removed from their common characterisation as conservative, traditional, and unproductive. With the recent emergence of ball mills and other mining technologies, production now carries a distinctly 'small-scale' character."

Off-grid Solar Expansion and Economic Development in the Global South: A Critical Review and Research Agenda (2022) Energy Research & Social Science

"We call for future research to adopt a more transformative conceptualisation of economic development and an analytical framework that more fully embraces the contested, contingent, and uneven nature of the process of economic development under observation"

Class Formation and Capital Accumulation in the Countryside: Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining in South Kivu, DR Congo (2022) Journal of Agrarian Change

"The main argument is that the capital-labour social relation underpinning ASM in South Kivu has facilitated the emergence of a capitalist managerial class of dynamic and prosperous rural Congolese"

Productivité et profitabilité: une analyse basée sur l’impact de la mécanisation dans l’EMAPE de l’or en RDC (2021) Institute of Development Policy, University of Antwerp

« Les résultats montrent que l’exploitation aurifère artisanale et à petite échelle se caractérise par un recours prononcé à la technologie et à la mécanisation ainsi qu’un niveau de productivité et une valeur de récupération assez élevés »

Struggles Over Value: Corporate-State Suppression of Locally Led Mining Mechanisation in DR Congo (2021) Review of African Political Economy

"In theory, locally managed artisanal mining mechanisation should increase the level of value retained in the Congolese economy. In practice, as we will show, such upgrading is held back by a political coalition between the state and corporate mining capital"

Les effets socio-économiques de l'extraction de l'or au Sud-Kivu (2020) Maison des Mines du Kivu

A Distributional Analysis of Artisanal and Industrial Wage Levels and Expenditure in the Congolese Mining Sector (2020) The Journal of Development Studies

« Sur base des résultats, la volonté politique de négliger l'exploitation minière artisanale sur base d'hypothèses concernant sa faible productivité, son inefficacité et ses liens avec le financement des conflits est contestée »

"The case study evidence...suggests that failure to address Lewis’ structural wage constraint will result in the continuation of low and stagnant wages to the majority of export sector workers in the African periphery, irrespective of productivity growth in these sectors"

Sustainable Minerals and Metals for a Low-Carbon Future (2020) Science

"We identify key sustainability challenges with practices used in industries that will supply the metals and minerals — including cobalt, copper, lithium, cadmium, and rare earth elements — needed for low-carbon technologies"

A Miner’s Canary in Eastern Congo: Formalisation of Artisanal 3T Mining and Precarious Livelihoods in South Kivu (2018) The Extractive Industries and Society

"Questioning certain industry and advocacy  claims, we argue that the incompatibility of artisanal mining with corporate-regulatory structures prevents a purely positive impact of traceability and certification on local production and trade"

Fighting Windmills in Eastern Congo: The Ambiguous Impact of the 'Conflict Minerals' Movement (2015) The Extractive Industries and Society

"The 'conflict minerals' approach is at a critical juncture, caught between the need to deliver a reliable and viable response and the reality of delivering new modes of disarticulation and dispossession"

The End of the African Mining Enclave? Domestic Marginalisation and Labour Fragmentation in the DRC (2020) Development and Change

"The general picture seems to confirm rather than invalidate Prebisch and Singer's original enclave thesis, whereby resource extraction in the periphery has few domestic linkages and is generally disarticulated from local and national economies"

The Limits of Corporate Social Responsibility and the Possibilities for State-led Local Development in the DRC (2016) L’Afrique des Grands Lacs

"Transfer pricing was raised by interviewees as the most serious issue, through which transnational mining corporations avoid paying taxes in the DRC and syphon profits overseas, to the net loss of Congolese state revenue"

In the Face of Reform: What Future for Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining in Eastern DRC? (2014) Futures


"There is a range of new initiatives to regulate and formalise the artisanal mining sector, but early evidence shows that they have failed to have a positive impact"

« La mécanisation de la production artisanale en RD Congo permet d’augmenter la productivité d’une activité qui parait plus ancrée dans l’économie locale et plus légitime aux yeux de la population locale »

Guest Editorial: Rethinking Democracy (2015) Development

"As we explore in this journal issue, rethinking democracy implies a critical attitude of going beyond claims of universality and normativity of democracy as a given concept and set of practices"

The Lived Experience of Human and Labour Rights Violations in Select Artisanal Mine Sites in North and South Kivu of the Eastern DRC (2014) Arizona University

"The mining sites appear intricately designed to survey, control, discipline, punish and extort from workers, with the overall objective of maintaining the status-quo by suppressing worker organisation and resistance"


Who Wants to Hear About White Saviourism Gone Wrong? (March 2023) African Arguments


DR Congo: Dirty Metals for Clean Energy (November 2022) The Red Line

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Expanded Solar Power and Economic Development in Africa (August 2022) The Conversation

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Mining Hierarchies (June 2022) Hierarchies of Development  


Small-scale Gold Miners in DRC Challenge the View They Can’t Cut It (February 2022) The Conversation


Lessons from the DRC's 10th Ebola Epidemic: The People Know Best (February 2022) The Conversation


The Class Contradictions of Scholar Activism (October 2021) Africa is a Country

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How Large Miners Stifle Local Innovation in the Congo (April 2021) The Conversation


The Macroeconomic Impact of Covid-19 in the Global South (May 2020) LSE-University of Oxford


La valeur de la filière minière artisanale (Aout 2020) Le Nouveau Congo


Global Divergence in a Post-Covid-19 World (April 2020) Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath


Banro au Sud-Kivu : bilan de son impact sur le plan social et économique (Aout 2020) Intel Congo


Gold from Eastern DR Congo: A Chat with Ben Radley (December 2019) Back to the Source


Low Worker Wages and High Inequality (June 2020) Africa is a Country


Mining in Congo (in Norwegian) (October 2019) Norwegian Institute of International Affairs


The End of the African Mining Enclave? (September 2019) The ISS Blog


Problems with Transnational Corporations in the DRC's Mining Sector (September 2018) The ISS Blog

Bringing Back the Beautiful: Congolese Activists Clean up Kinshasa (April 2017) EcoHustler


Rethinking the Failures of Mining Industrialisation in the African Periphery (May 2019) Developing Economics

Bukavu, DRC

Why Mining Execs Don’t Care if Congo Hikes Up its Profit Tax (March 2018) African Arguments

La fuite légale des capitaux, un frein à l’industrialisation de la RD Congo (Mars 2017) Jeune Afrique


Challenging Industry Claims on Local Wages (May 2019) Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath

Bukavu, DRC

Gold Mining in the DRC, from the Ore to the Bar (September 2017) Deutsche Welle

The Problem with Western Activists Trying to do Good in Africa (April 2016) The Conversation


Corporate Suppression of Artisanal Mining in the Congo (Feb 2019) Review of African Political Economy

Bukavu, DRC

The DRC is Revisiting its Mining Code: Why Reform is Long Overdue (June 2017) The Conversation

Bukavu, DRC

Western Advocacy Groups and (Class) Conflict in the Congo (Feb 2016) Review of African Political Economy

Who Really Benefits from Celebrity Activism? (July 2015) The Guardian

Time to Join the Village Against the World? (April 2014) EcoHustler

In Eastern Congo, Economic Colonialism in the Guise of Ethical Consumption? (Sept 2014) The Washington Post 

Mining in the DRC

Foreign Direct Investment, Mining and Development in the DRC (Feb 2014) Resolution Possible

'Conflict Minerals' - An Open Letter (Sept 2014) Suluhu

Artisanal miners in the DRC

Unexpected Truth from the Congo (Nov 2013) EcoHustler

Conflict Minerals Movement at a Crossroads (Sept 2014) Al Jazeera


Artisanal miners in the DRC

Looking for Peace in the Wrong Place (Oct 2013) Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa



Between 2013 and 2015, filmmaker Seth Chase and I co-wrote and co-produced the award-winning, feature-length documentary We Will Win Peace. The film charts why and how the Western-led conflict minerals campaign had an adverse and harmful impact on the lives of many Congolese it was designed to help. Released in 2016, the film has screened at festivals and universities across Africa, Europe, and North America, and sold in over 30 countries worldwide.


In 2018 and 2019, photographer Robert Carrubba and I ran a photo exhibition in the DR Congo and Europe. The exhibition documented the process of locally led gold production in eastern Congo, from extraction to transformation into gold bars and jewellery in the city of Bukavu.

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The Why Africa Podcast

In 2022, Cynthia Kamwengo and I co-hosted the Why Africa Podcast mini-series, produced and edited by Holly Jewell. Over five episodes, we spoke to students and academics engaged in the work of deconstructing and reconstructing how Africa and its people are taught and researched in the UK education system today.


The Review of African Political Economy (ROAPE) was established in 1974 by a group of scholars and activists in the UK and Africa. The journal and its website are committed to understanding projects of radical transformation on the continent. As a member of the journal's Editorial Working Group, I interview and commission contributions from radical scholars, scholar-activists, and activists researching and/or contributing to these projects for publication on ROAPE's website. Occasionally, I also write there myself. Below is a collection of these pieces.

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