Conflict in Central Africa: Clandestine networks and regional/global configurations

Ian Taylor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Central Africa is currently characterised by conflict and disorder with concomitant social, political, and ecological dislocation. The war(s) in the Democratic Republic of Congo and its borderlands are a catastrophe in the heart of Africa. At the formal level, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is ridden by tension and rivalries that profoundly call into question the 'official' region-building project. Yet, at the same time, another type of regional networking has been assiduously crafted. This networking, very often clandestine and illegal, has helped forge a regionalisation that may not be recognisable at first glance, but is surely as 'real' - if not more so - in the DRC than any formal regionalism. The type of regionalism emerging links up well-placed individuals and groups within Africa to outside interests, creating a millieu where a wide variety of shadow networks involving states, mafias, private armies, 'businessmen' and assorted state elites from both within and outside Africa has developed. The role that international capital has played in this is discussed, throwing into relief the involvement of international interests in helping perpetuate the continent's disorder, even whilst influential voices - ignoring such roles - throw up their hands at the 'hopeless continent'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
JournalReview of African Political Economy
Issue number95
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2003


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