'The problem with Western activists trying to do good in Africa'

Ben Radley

Article by PhD researcher Ben Radley in The Huffington Post

In his article, 'The problem with Western activists trying to do good in Africa', ISS PhD researcher Ben Radley critiques the actions and results of well-meaning Western advocacy groups mobilizing the public behind a 'conflict minerals' campaign in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

He highlights three main shortcomings to the conflict minerals campaign:

  • It misrepresents the causal drivers of rape and conflict in the eastern DRC;
  • It assumes the dependence of armed groups on mineral revenue for their survival;
  • It underestimates the importance of artisanal mining to employment, local economies.

He suggests that advocacy groups change how they market their interventions and talk about their work. He furthermore suggests they reorient their efforts to working with, not just for, the non-elites they use to promote their public image and in whose name they justify their external interventions.

About the author

Ben Radley is a PhD researcher at ISS. His research asks whether an emergent industrial gold mining sector in South Kivu Province of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo supports new processes of domestic accumulation and structural transformation, as claimed by its promotors, or whether the dependence of this sector upon the tutelage of transnational mining corporations undermines its developmental potential.

More information

Read the full article online

A longer version of the article appeared in the Review of African Political Economy.