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Journal Articles Journal of Eastern African Studies Year : 2012

Doing business out of war

Koen Vlassenroot
  • Function : Author
Jeroen Cuvelier
  • Function : Author


This paper analyses how Ugandan army commanders have mobilised transborder economic networks to exploit economic opportunities in eastern DRC during the military intervention of the Ugandan People's Defence Force (UPDF) in Congo's wars (1996–97; 1998–2003). These transborder networks are the starting point of our evaluation of the informal political structures and networks linking Uganda's political centre to Congo's war complex. While it is often claimed that military entrepreneurismalism in the DRC has undermined political stability in Uganda, we argue that the activities of Ugandan military entrepreneurs and networks under their control were an integral part of Uganda's governance regime. Crucial to the development of this entrepreneurialism was the existence of pre-war transborder networks of economic exchange that were connecting Congo to eastern African markets. Military control over these highly informalised networks facilitated UPDF commanders’ access to Congo's resources. Rather than operating as privatised sources of accumulation, these military shadow networks were directly linked to the inner circles of the Ugandan regime.
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Dates and versions

hal-03393558 , version 1 (21-10-2021)



Koen Vlassenroot, Sandrine Perrot, Jeroen Cuvelier. Doing business out of war: An analysis of the UPDF’s presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 2012, 6 (1), pp.2 - 21. ⟨10.1080/17531055.2012.664701⟩. ⟨hal-03393558⟩
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