Stealing Africa

The Copper Mines of Zambia

How does this film relate to economics?

Stealing Africa shows how multinational corporations can essentially steal resources from other countries. In the film, Glencore, a multinational mining company based in Switzerland, pays very little money back to Zambia despite huge profits from Zambian copper mines. The company is able to do this through tax avoidance and favorable tax agreements. As a result, Zambia is in the 20 poorest countries despite being rich in copper.

What is the bias of this film?

Although the film tries to persuade viewers that multinational corporations like Glencore are corrupt, it gives additional perspective with interviews of people in charge of the corporations.

Synopsis

Despite having abundant valuable copper, Zambia remains as one of the poorest countries due to the privatization of their copper mines. Companies like Glencore were able to take advantage of Zambia's failing economy in 2000 by obtaining their rich copper mines under terms unfavorable for Zambia. Additionally local residents near copper plants in Zambia have complained of water contamination and increased respiratory diseases attributed to drifting acid and sulfuric dioxide emissions created by the plant.

My opinion

The film was fairly interesting to me in the first half, but by the later parts, I was bored. The film provided plenty of statistics and interviews to be informative. Although I agree that Glencore is corrupt, I am not particularly intrigued in the topic.
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Impactful Quotes

"Zambia sold its copper at the worst possible time - on terms that made it difficult for the country to benefit from its own natural wealth."


"We [Zambia] are wealthy, yet we are poor."

Why was Zambia poor despite the abundance of copper?

Although resources were plentiful, multinational corporations gained possession of mines under conditions that were unfavorable for Zambia.

How did copper plants in Zambia affect local residents?

Acid from the plant contaminated water supplies, and sulfuric dioxide emissions caused acid rain and respiratory diseases.

Production information

  • Director: Christoffer Guldbrandsen
  • Producer: Hendrik Veileborg
  • Production Company: Guldbrandsen Film
  • Distribution Company: Why Poverty?
  • Locations Filmed: Switzerland, UK, US, Zambia
  • Year: 2012