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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Involvement of the Belgian Central Bank in the Katanga Secession, 1960-1963
Author:Boehme, Olivier
Periodical:African Economic History
Geographic terms:Congo (Democratic Republic of)
Subjects:central banks
public finance
foreign exchange
Ethnic and Race Relations
international relations
History and Exploration
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
Politics and Government
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/4617603
Abstract:The decolonization of the Belgian Congo took place in an atmosphere of mutual distrust between Belgium and its former African territory. Tough questions concerning the future of former colonial enterprises and assets, such as those of the Union minière du Haut-Katanga (UMHK), generated disagreement. Confronted with the secession of Katanga shortly after Congo's independence, Belgium and its advisors, notably the National Bank of Belgium (NBB), tried to limited the damage. A whole scale of measures was worked out to ensure the continuation of Belgian commercial and financial interests as well as what were thought to be the best interests of Katanga and Congo in general. There was a wish to preserve the trade between Belgium and Katanga while avoiding a complete rupture with Congo. The leaders of the rebellious province wanted to create their own currency and central bank. This was in defiance of resolution number nine, taken at the Belgian-Congolese roundtable preparing for independence, which determined that finance and currency matters were to be handled by the central government. The initiative for helping Katanga was shared by the NBB and the Belgian government. The Belgian central bank advised on the foundation of the Banque nationale du Katanga, monetary flows to and from Katanga, the account of the Banque nationale du Katanga at the NBB and money transactions involving the Union minière. In providing the Tshombe regime with technical assistance in economic, financial and monetary matters, the Belgian central bank's operations throughout blurred the distinction between technical know-how and political options. It is also apparent that the Union minière, acting largely out of self-interest, had a great impact both on Belgian politics and on central banking in the whole episode. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]