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A Historical Perspective on State
Engagement in Informal Trade on
the Uganda-Congo Border
“Somebody who grew up on a river bank, he will learn how to ﬁ sh.
Somebody who grew up on a border, he will learn how to smuggle.”
—Interview with smuggler, Arua, 12-02-08
From a “heart of darkness”1 to a “coming anarchy”,2 a stereotype of sub-Sa-
haran Africa remains that of a politically, economically, and socially cha-
otic continent, resistant to conventional regulations. Apart from being very
essentialist, this view is also utterly unhelpful: a closer look informs us of a
much more complex set of arrangements among local populations of Africa
that take place in a very lively and densely negotiated informal economy.
This paper aims at describing these through what Janet Roitman calls an
“anthropology of economic regulation.”3
A large section of economic activities in sub-Saharan Africa avoids state
control and is considered part of the “informal sector.” In 1999–2000, this
comprised an estimated 42 percent of the GNP in Africa.4 The East Afri-
can country of Uganda is no exception: an estimated 43.1 percent of its
1999/2000 GNP belongs to the informal economy.5 According to the Ugan-
dan national household survey of 2009–2010, about 1.2 million Ugandan
households—or 21 percent of the total households in Uganda—are engaged
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172 Kristof Titeca
in informal business. When looking at the individual level, the survey found
3.5 million people working in the informal sector. Of those not in agricul-
ture, 2.2 million or 58 percent are employed in the informal sector.6 What-
ever approach is taken, the informal economy clearly plays an important
role in the Ugandan national economy; processes of economic development
cannot be understood without taking it into account.
One economic activity particularly prone to informality is cross-border
trade. Again in Uganda, in 2008 informal exports were estimated to be
US$1.35 billion, while ofﬁ cially recorded exports were valued at US$1.72
billion.7 In other words, formal exports were only slightly higher than infor-
mal exports. In 2009, this difference became even less pronounced, when
informal exports were estimated at US$1.558 billion, while formal exports
were only worth slightly more than this, US$1.567 billion.8 Moreover, these
ﬁ gures only include unrecorded trade at formal border points and do not
involve trade that bypasses formal border crossings altogether. In other
words, when looking at the informal economy in general, or at cross-bor-
der trade in particular, all of these ﬁ gures show the dominant presence of
informal trade in Uganda. Not taking these processes into account would
miss important dynamics.
Despite the prominence of the informal economy or “smuggling” activ-
ities, these are conventionally deﬁ ned negatively, that is as lacking state
regulation, which implies a void of any regulation at all.9 For example,
Castells and Portes argue that the central feature of the informal economy
is that “it is unregulated by the institutions of society in a legal and social
environment in which similar activities are regulated.”10 Another view
sees it as economic activity conducted through “irregular or unregulated
means.”11 In this way, the informal economy presumably deﬁ es “rational
classiﬁ cation and theorization,” resulting in a shallow understanding of
the informal sector that neglects the causes and internal dynamics at
play.12 This chapter aims to analyze precisely the internal dynamics by
looking at the ambiguous and changing relationship between the state,
the informal economy, and processes of regulation. Far from there being
a void of regulation and an absence of the state, “pluralistic regulatory
arrangements” are in place in which the state plays an ambiguous role.13
This study analyzes the recent history of the informal economy in the bor-
derlands between Uganda and Congo, and more particularly the engage-
ment of the state in regulating informal cross-border trade in a region
called “West Nile” in northwestern Uganda bordering with Congo. Arua
in Uganda and Ariwara in Congo are the most important cities in this
borderland (Figure 7.1).14
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Figure 7.1. Uganda and its border regions.
Source: Kristof Titeca, Luk Joossens, M. Raw, “Blood Cigarettes: Cigarette
Smuggling and War Economies in Central and Eastern Africa,” Tobacco Control
20, no. 3 (2011): 229; based on and with permission of United Nations Map No.
3862 Rev. 4 May 2003, United Nations Cartographic Section.
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174 Kristof Titeca
THE INFORMAL ECONOMY, THE STATE, AND REGULATION
The traditional “negative” approach to the informal economy relies on two
premises: ﬁ rst, that the state is by deﬁ nition absent from the informal econ-
omy and second, that as a result, the informal economy is unregulated.
This section provides a critique to these two premises and instead offers
a theoretical backdrop for a recent historical overview of the relationship
between the state and the informal economy in the Ugandan-Congolese
A ﬁ rst premise of the “informal economy as unregulated” is that the
state is a priori absent from the informal economy. Both the theoretical
and policy literature on this subject reﬂ ect this idea, which proved to be
particularly inﬂ uential at ﬁ rst. When the informal economy concept gained
prominence, it was seen as a primary example of state disengagement from
society. Economically disempowered sections of the population look to
informal trade for a means of survival that has become unavailable through
regular formal activities due to general state neglect, corruption, and the
incapacity of the state to provide basic services or decent formal wages.15
In this view, the informal economy is a parallel system supplying “alterna-
tive outlets for needs that remain unfulﬁ lled by ofﬁ cial channels, and they
reduce dependence on those channels.”16 Moreover, not only is the state
unable to provide services, but oppressive state regulations make it difﬁ cult
for traders to function and therefore lead them to create an income outside
of the oppressive state framework. Not surprisingly, this view was appropri-
ated by the anti–state donor vision during the eighties and early nineties.17
The neoliberal structural adjustment policies of this era considered the state
to be overdeveloped and ineffective, and wanted to promote market-based
mechanisms instead of state-led economic interventionism. This view also
highlights that informal practices do not necessarily equal criminal prac-
tices: although they are illegal—they occur outside of the state regulatory
framework—they primarily happen for purposes of mere survival, and on an
However, this view became criticized by another vision, which argued
the opposite of the above, namely, that the state actively engages in informal
economies. Through its ability to sanction illegal practices, it puts its repre-
sentatives (state ofﬁ cials) in a privileged position to participate in the infor-
mal economies: “Customs evasion or smuggling, then, cannot be considered
in isolation as an activity which is simply illegal or criminal, but is better
seen as one among a larger variety of techniques designed to exploit oppor-
tunities offered by the state.”18 In this interpretation, access to the informal
economy is no longer free, but functions through connections with state
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State Engagement in Informal Trade on the Uganda-Congo Border 175
ofﬁ cials.19 Moreover, this vision largely emphasizes the criminal character
of informal economic activities, which are no longer considered to be about
survival but rather about enrichment by political and economic elites. In
this way, these visions reﬂ ect a “qualitative difference of scale and intent”
between organized criminal activities and “the scores of micro-practices
that, while often illegal in a formal sense, are not driven by a structural logic
of organization and uniﬁ ed purpose.”20 The engagement of the state plays
an important role in how this difference is explained: in both approaches,
the informal economy is presented either as a manifestation of the engage-
ment or of the disengagement of the state.21
I argue that the insights of these dichotomous approaches should be
complemented with the broader state-society literature that turns such the-
oretical presumptions on their head and instead invokes the state and its
various interactions with society as a point of a departure.22 A basic theme
of this literature is that states automatically interact with and are inﬂ uenced
by nonstate actors. In his seminal work on state-society relations, Migdal
summarizes this in the following way:
States must contend with opposing groupings, some of which are quietly and
indirectly subversive ... others of which are openly confrontational. These
multiple groupings of opposition have created coalitions to strengthen their
stance, and these have cut right into the very structure of states themselves.
The resulting coalitional struggles have taken their toll: state policy imple-
mentation and the outcomes in society have ended up quite different from the
state’s original blueprints.23
In other words, the state is profoundly inﬂ uenced by society and the
powerful actors with whom it interacts. This approach allows an analysis
of how the state can equally engage and disengage from the informal econ-
omy, as it necessarily interacts with a range of nonstate actors. This brings
us to the second premise of the “negative” approach to the informal econ-
omy, which claims that the informal economy is unregulated because of the
absence of the state and its regulatory framework.24 However, the state-soci-
ety approach argues that it is necessary to leave a state-centric approach in
studying governance and regulation in particular localities.
Absence of the state does not mean that a void exists in its place. Local life may
suffer from under-administration, but still be characterized by often latent and
disguised greed, conﬂ icts, and negotiation between various authorities, clans,
and factions. This means that the study of local powers and politics must not
be restricted to ‘formal’ institutions but ought also to take account of all ‘public
spaces’ and positions of eminence.25
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176 Kristof Titeca
Thus one must depart from a state-centric view and instead take into
account the whole spectrum of other formal and informal actors, or the
“multifocality” of regulation and the local political ﬁ eld in general.26 The
fact that the state is absent does not mean that chaos erupts or that public
services are no longer being provided.27 Governance is produced not only by
the state, but is negotiated between a broad coalition of state and nonstate
actors. Abandoning a state-centric vision on regulation has a number of
important consequences. On the one hand, spaces considered to be strictly
regulated by the state necessarily include interactions with nonstate actors.
In constituting governance, nonstate actors have different levels of auton-
omy, or put differently, they have various degrees of interaction with the
state.28 Nonstate actors do not necessarily act outside of the state; they can
cooperate or compete with the state, and they can be part of the state or not.29
Regulatory frameworks are therefore by deﬁ nition “hybrid political orders”
that make it necessary to “focus on models of governance which draw on the
strengths of social order and resilience embedded in community life.”30 Fur-
thermore, departing from this state-centric view implies that spaces where
the state is absent can still be governed through these “intermediate” social
actors. For example, studies on urban Africa have shown that while the state
is largely absent from areas such as work, shelter, land use, transportation,
and so on, nonstate actors largely drive them.31 The above issues are par-
ticularly relevant for the informal economy: the fact that the state is absent
does not mean that the informal economy is unregulated.32 Moreover, as the
introduction to this volume shows, in “illegal” spaces (such as the informal
economy) lawmakers and lawbreakers are closely connected and have a dia-
lectical relationship in shaping each other, in which they mutually support
each other. Regulation is therefore per deﬁ nition hybrid.
Here the recent history of informal trade on the Ugandan-Congolese
border engages with this debate. An analysis of different sides of the border
shows various modes of interaction between the state and the informal econ-
omy in which the state regulatory framework is not always the dominant
framework. Instead there is a “pluralization” of regulatory authority that
differs both through time and through space.
SETTING THE SCENE: PRECOLONIAL AND COLONIAL
ROOTS OF THE INFORMAL CROSS-BORDER TRADE
As elsewhere, informal trade in this border region does not come out of the
blue.33 The recent history of the informal trade in this border region has pre-
colonial and colonial roots. In the ﬁ rst place, ethnic groups in northwestern
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State Engagement in Informal Trade on the Uganda-Congo Border 177
Uganda (Lugbara, Madi, Kakwa, and Alur) are different from other ethnic
groups in (northern) Uganda. For example, apart from the Alur, the ethnic
groups in West Nile speak Sudanic rather than Nilotic languages, as in the
rest of Northern Uganda.34 There is a close ethnic interconnectedness across
the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan: the
main ethnic group of northwestern Uganda, the Lugbara, also live across
the border in northeastern Congo. Other ethnic groups, such as the Kakwa,
live on both sides of the Ugandan-Sudanese border.35 The most famous West
Niler, Idi Amin, president of Uganda from 1971 to 1979, is said to have been
born over the border in Sudan or Congo.36
Second, this region has always been in close contact with surrounding
ones, as witnessed by precolonial trading patterns. The Lugbara traded with
Congo for iron, while Egyptian delegations from Khartoum traded with
northwestern Uganda from the late 1830s onwards in guns, ivory, and peo-
ple (i.e., slaves). These trading contacts between Khartoum and northern
Uganda were well established by the beginning of the colonial period.37
Third, it is necessary to understand how various actors have always
manipulated borders in the area, something that has been described well by
the work of Mark Leopold.38 By the early 1890s, the region was known as the
“Lado Enclave” and included parts of Northern Uganda as well as parts of
South Sudan and the Central African Republic. Strategically important for
control of the upper part of the Nile, it provoked the interest of a number
of European nations, notably Britain, France, Germany, and Belgium. In
1892, Belgian forces were the ﬁ rst to arrive in the area and to set up bases
across the Enclave. However, quite soon Belgian interest there decreased
because of the large costs of the operation, the limited commercial opportu-
nities, the difﬁ culties of organizing supply lines, and European disputes over
the region. Moreover, Britain used diplomatic pressure to gain control over
the area. In 1906, the Anglo-Congolese Agreement formalized the phasing
out of Belgian inﬂ uence by recognizing the Lado Enclave as the personal
property of King Leopold for as long as he lived. After his death, it would
come under British control as part of the Sudan condominium. This agree-
ment further reduced Belgian interest in the area, which it could no longer
govern solely. Consequently, with most of the Enclave no longer controlled
by a clear formal authority, activities such as poaching, game hunting (par-
ticularly elephant hunting to meet the strong demand for ivory in Europe
and the United States), and small-arms trade became dominant. The impact
of the ivory hunters was particularly negative on the local population, as
they abducted people as porters, killed cattle, and burned villages.39 In other
words, although in theory there was a “state” presence—Belgian colonial
rule—it did not show major interest in governing the area.
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178 Kristof Titeca
After the death of King Leopold in 1909, the Enclave was transferred
to Sudan whose
authorities acquired a piece of territory which had, for some years, been under
no de facto imperial authority and had become a killing ground for European
ivory hunters. Local people had become adept at manipulating the tripartite
(Sudan/Congo/Uganda) borders: for example, living in the Congo but keeping
their cattle in Uganda to avoid paying hut tax in the latter and tribute in kind
in the former.40
Although more control was exercised than during the Belgian colonial
period, it remained relative in that ivory poachers continued to operate.
Soon the colonial authorities organized a boundary commission, which in
1914 decided to transfer the southern tip of the Enclave—currently West
Nile—to the neighboring part of the British colonial empire, the Ugandan
Protectorate.41 In sum, throughout colonial history, the borders of the West
Nile region have been manipulated by various categories of people: ordi-
nary people to avoid tax, but also poachers and hunters, who have been
moving relatively freely through the region. As the next sections will show,
this continued in the postcolonial period.
RECENT HISTORY OF THE INFORMAL TRADE
Informal Trade and Refugee Movements
A particularly important function of the borders in the West Nile region has
proven to be the provision of security. All the different sides of the border
(Congo, Sudan, Uganda) have, in varying degrees, been conﬂ ict ridden in
the last thirty years. During different phases of conﬂ ict, refugees from the
different areas always sought asylum across the respective borders. When
former Ugandan president Idi Amin (a West Niler) was ousted from power in
1979, the population of West Nile feared revenge and ﬂ ed to eastern Congo
and southern Sudan.42 Similarly, increased violence in Southern Sudan in
the early 1990s forced many Sudanese to ﬂ ee to northern Uganda, where
they stayed until recently. Not until the signing of the Comprehensive Peace
Agreement in 2005 did the Sudanese refugees slowly return home. Lastly,
eastern Congolese ﬂ ed to Uganda during the successive phases of conﬂ ict
in their region.43 These refugee movements increased contact between the
different areas, and were essential in the development of informal trade.
Their “ﬂ uidity of movement across borders made them an ideal matrix for
the development of parallel trade.”44
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State Engagement in Informal Trade on the Uganda-Congo Border 179
The refugee movement after the ousting of Idi Amin played a partic-
ularly important role in this. When Amin was removed from power, much
of the population of West Nile ﬂ ed to eastern Congo and southern Sudan
in fear of an invasion force consisting of the Tanzanian army and the
national Ugandan army. Whereas the former maintained restrained and
correct behavior, the latter engaged in brutal reprisals towards the civilian
population. Most of the refugees remained in exile in eastern Congo or
Southern Sudan until the mid- to late 1980s.45 Although this was a time of
profound conﬂ ict and crisis, it also offered particular opportunities. During
the Amin regime, the informal economy had already become a dominant
survival mode in light of an incapable and violent state.46 When Ugandans
were pushed over the border into Congo and Sudan, the informal econ-
omy continued being the dominant survival mode, but became much more
proﬁ table because the refugee crisis and the situation of conﬂ ict created
a severe shortage of goods on different sides of the border. This is when
the important border market of Ariwara came into existence on the Con-
golese side of the border. It was started by Ugandan refugees in Congo and
was central in supplying goods to the wider region. The market created a
particular regional trading dynamic: in Ariwara market, Congolese traders
brought gold from the mines in northeastern Congo; with the income from
the gold, they purchased manufactured goods or foodstuffs brought by the
Ugandan traders. The Sudanese brought dollars to buy foodstuffs, manu-
factured goods, and particularly coffee, which was supplied by Congolese
and Ugandan farmers, who smuggled their coffee to Zaire.47 With the prof-
its from the sale of their manufactured goods and foodstuffs originating in
Kampala in Uganda, or Mombasa or Nairobi, both in Kenya, the Ugandan
traders purchased the gold and dollars. The gold was in turn sold in Kam-
pala, Mombasa, or Nairobi and the proﬁ t, together with the dollars pur-
chased in Ariwara, was used to purchase manufactured goods. In addition,
Ugandan refugees were particularly active along the Sudanese-Congolese
border, buying manufactured goods and foodstuffs in the Ariwara market
and selling them in southern Sudan.48 Congolese traders were not yet going
to Kampala, so Ugandan traders were the main suppliers of goods. In short,
Ugandan traders played a central role in this triangular cross-border trade
by controlling the most proﬁ table part of the trading network: selling Con-
golese gold to the international market and importing much-needed man-
ufactured goods. All of this trade happened outside of the state regulatory
framework and could be considered “informal” trade.49 Although very prof-
itable, it also was a risky and difﬁ cult business. On the Uganda side of the
border, the national Ugandan army was active, while on the Congolese side
of the border, authorities seriously harassed traders. Conﬁ scation of gold
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180 Kristof Titeca
was one of these risks, as was the sale of fake gold by Congolese or Ugandan
traders. Therefore only a rather small group of Ugandan traders operated in
these difﬁ cult circumstances. They all originated from the Ugandan border
town of Arua, and were therefore called the “Arua boys.” Soon, these Arua
boys had established a well-functioning trade organization that made large
proﬁ ts. They had a de facto monopoly on the supply of these goods and on
the gold trade, as the Congolese traders had not yet found their way to the
international market. The trade in manufactured goods into Congo and the
export of gold outside of Congo—that is, the activities of the Arua boys—
remain at the heart of this trade up to today.
The next sections engage with the theoretical debates about the infor-
mal economy by looking at the role of the state in regulating the informal
economy on the Ugandan and Congolese sides of the border. Zooming in
on this issue on the different sides of the border gives a better perspective on
the different dynamics at stake and on the plurality of regulatory authority.
The Ugandan Side of the Border: From “Arua Boys” to “Tycoons”
When President Museveni came to power in 1986, a period of relative peace
broke out in West Nile, and most of the refugees came back into Uganda.50
Although a number of rebel groups remained active in West Nile for a while,
their activities were quite limited, certainly compared to the activities of the
Lord’s Resistance Army in the rest of Northern Uganda.51 The state also
increased its presence in the area, which changed the nature of the regional
trade, although in a different way than one could expect. The Arua boys—
and informal trade in general—had started their activities because of the
absence of the state in providing basic goods and services. After the state
and economy collapsed under President Amin, informal trade had been
boosted, entrenched, and made much more proﬁ table through the refugee
movements towards Congo. During this period of exile, no institutionalized
state control existed at the border points, only individual harassment by
Congolese or Ugandan state actors. Arguably, therefore, the disengagement
of the state in the area formed the basis of regional informal trade. How-
ever, the reengagement of the national state, while structurally changing the
organization of informal trade, did not lead to an increased importance of
the state regulatory framework. Rather, the increased state presence in the
area played an important role in the development of the current informal
First, the national revenue agency, the Uganda Revenue Authorities
(URA), arrived in West Nile in 1996—more particularly in Arua, its regional
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State Engagement in Informal Trade on the Uganda-Congo Border 181
headquarters. Before their arrival, border control was not systematic, and the
arrival of the URA increased state presence and the risk of smuggling. This
pushed a lot of actors out of the trade, including many Arua boys. As one of
them complained: “The arrival of the URA marked the end of a lot of Arua
boys. You suddenly had to pay revenue! Of course, you had to do this before,
but it was easy to escape. At this point, times became hard for many.”53
Second, the continuous and increased militarization of the region played
an important role in the development of the trade. During the ﬁ rst years of
the Museveni regime (in the second half of the 1980s), this militarization
had a rather dubious effect on trade: on the one hand, soldiers easily conﬁ s-
cated the goods of the traders, who suffered major losses through this. On
the other hand, much of the gold that was bought was delivered directly to
military actors themselves—according to the traders involved, a number of
generals based in Arua and in Kampala were their biggest clients. While
the gradual paciﬁ cation of the area led to a reduced importance of mili-
tary actors in the area, these again became prominent through the involve-
ment of the Ugandan army in the Congolese conﬂ ict from 1998 onwards.
As described elsewhere in detail, Uganda had strong economic interests in
this conﬂ ict, which again brought a higher involvement of state (military)
ofﬁ cials in the cross-border trade.54 For example, a number of rebel groups
in Eastern Congo—just across the border from Arua—were supported by the
Ugandan ofﬁ cials, who increasingly engaged in the informal trade of Congo
and West Nile.55
This increased state engagement in the area—the arrival of mili-
tary actors and revenue authorities—did not necessarily mean an overall
increased importance of the state regulatory framework or “formalization”
of the trade. Rather, it led to an increased direct engagement of state ofﬁ -
cials in informal trade. Concretely, state ofﬁ cials started collaborating with
a number of Arua boys. While on the one hand a number of Arua boys
were pushed out of the trade through increased state control, others were
boosted by its presence; protected by government ofﬁ cials, they got pref-
erential treatment (as was happening with the gold trade in the beginning
of the Museveni regime). Through this cooperation and protection, these
traders smuggle large consignments of contraband in the wider region.
“Friendly” state ofﬁ cials help them to cross their goods through the border
points, and intervene when necessary at the different border points. Inter-
views with customs ofﬁ cials at the different border points reveal that they
are often ordered to permit the free passage of certain trucks. Through such
cooperation, a small number of traders emerged who receive protection and
engagement. Locally called “tycoons,” they naturally enjoy a market advan-
tage over other contraband traders and therefore have a de facto monopoly
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182 Kristof Titeca
of the contraband trade, especially of minerals, cigarettes, batteries, and
fuel. Of course, state ofﬁ cials receive part of the proﬁ ts; traders testify that
certain amounts have to be paid for safe passage of the goods. Other trad-
ers testify that particular state ofﬁ cials directly participate in the trade, for
example by owning/selling part of the contraband.56
The next section discusses these issues on the Congolese side of the
border, speciﬁ cally by focusing on the important border market of Ariwara,
and the way in which the state tried to implement its control after a period
of “rebel governance.”
The Congolese Side of the Border
The State and Informal Trade
In order to analyze the Congolese side of the border, this section will focus
on the informal trade taking place during and after the regime of a rebel
group called the Armed Forces of the Congolese People (Forces Armées du
People Congolais) or FAPC. From 2003 to 2005, this rebel group of 2,000
to 3,000 combatants took charge of a small area in northwestern Congo
bordering Uganda, and more particularly of the important border market
of Ariwara.57 The rebel movement was created with support from Uganda,
which wanted to protect its interests in the area.58 The movement never
had an outspoken political agenda, but had a very clear economic agenda:
having settled in economically important areas, it showed a direct interest
in proﬁ ting from the available resources.59 First, the rebel movement took
control over the customs points and greatly reduced taxes. This succeeded
in attracting more traders to the area, which in turn led to a steady income
from taxation. Particularly the border market of Ariwara became a very
popular trading destination. Second, rebel ofﬁ cers actively participated in
the regional smuggling networks and reinvested part of their proﬁ ts in the
local traders, who then multiplied the investments of the rebel ofﬁ cers. For
example, the rebel ofﬁ cers proﬁ ted hugely from smuggling manufactured
products such as batteries or cigarettes to Uganda, where taxes were much
higher.60 They also participated in smuggling gold.61 Coordination of smug-
gling practices relied on a variety of actors: Congolese traders cooperated
closely with the Ugandan traders described as tycoons. Traders received
unprecedented protection in this smuggling arrangement: while the Con-
golese rebel ofﬁ cers offered protection on the Congolese side of the border,
the Ugandan ofﬁ cials offered protection on the Ugandan side of the border.
The latter even helped to ﬁ nance this trade. This “tightly knit smuggling
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State Engagement in Informal Trade on the Uganda-Congo Border 183
system” was a win-win situation for all those involved—FAPC, Ugandan and
Congolese traders, and Ugandan state ofﬁ cials—who enriched themselves
quickly in this arrangement.62
In April 2005, the rebel group surrendered to the United Nations. Part
of the rebel force was integrated into the government army and stationed in
another area; its leaders were transferred to Kinshasa, and some former reb-
els remained in the area. From the moment the rebel movement ceased to
exist, the Congolese state tried to regain control of the region, that is, to (re-)
implement its regulatory framework by setting taxation policies. However,
this proved to be very difﬁ cult as the FAPC regime had kept taxes very low,
while the Congolese state tried to restore higher national tax laws. Resis-
tance came from the local trading community which had experienced rapid
upward mobility and had become well organized during the FAPC regime
that cooperated with it. The organization of traders, the Fédération des
enterprises du Congo or FEC, had become not only economically strong but
also remained powerful even after FAPC disappeared. As a result, every tax
introduced by the central government has to be negotiated with the FEC; if
the FEC does not agree with certain taxes, it reacts by organizing a strike,
which blocks all imports through the border. This can last from several
days up to several weeks, not only depriving the customs of taxes, but also
creating major shortages in the area.63 The FEC also continuously lobbies
higher-level governmental institutions, and uses its inﬂ uence to pressure the
customs agencies, with the result that de facto tax rates in the area are lower
than ofﬁ cial tax rates.64 For example, the customs agency Ofﬁ ce Congolais
de Contrôle (Congolese Control Ofﬁ ce) charges a tax of $1,300 for a truck-
load of motorcycles, while the ofﬁ cial government tax is $2,400. (At the time
of the FAPC, it was $500.) A truckload of sugar normally should pay $1,400,
but currently pays $900. (During the FAPC regime, it was $350.) Other taxes
are simply not paid because the FEC refuses to do so.65 The general popula-
tion also creates problems for state ofﬁ cials. During the FAPC regime, the
low taxation rates generated lower prices in the market of Ariwara; hence,
the higher taxation rates are highly contested. Ofﬁ cers who try too strictly to
follow the new state regulations complain about intimidation in town; they
claim they cannot simply go to the market or other places without being
harassed.66 With pressure from both FEC and the population, it becomes
impossible to implement the state regulatory framework.
Not only does the state have problems enforcing taxation. Unsurpris-
ingly, it also has difﬁ culty regulating smuggling activities, especially in the
most proﬁ table commodities previously dominated by the FAPC. After the
end of the FAPC regime, illegal regional trade became more difﬁ cult, for
the simple reason that it could no longer be conducted in the open; overt
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184 Kristof Titeca
protection of the contraband trade by the authorities on both sides of the
border vanished. Yet this trading network remains very much functional.
The war period served as a “capacity-building” or “matchmaking” exer-
cise for the actors involved, particularly between Ugandan and Congolese
traders. Before the rebellion, cooperation between both sides had been lim-
ited and both Congolese and Ugandan traders would smuggle goods from
Congo into Uganda individually, which involved bigger risks.67 This changed
during and after the rebellion, when there developed—and remains—a close
cooperation between Ugandan and Congolese traders, making their illegal
trading practices more efﬁ cient.68 In other words, trading practices that were
in place during the war economy have not disappeared. The “tightly knit
smuggling system” is therefore still in place: a regional complex, consisting
of Congolese traders (FEC members), Ugandan businessmen, Ugandan ofﬁ -
cials, and ex-FAPC ofﬁ cers, still deals in highly proﬁ table illegal commodi-
ties.69 A practical manifestation of this is the fact that all the major traders
who were identiﬁ ed as being at the heart of the FAPC’s war economy by
different international reports are still the principal players of the regional
THE STATE, LEGALITY AND LEGITIMACY
Charles Tilly’s work has shown how law and crime emerged out of an histor-
ical and ongoing struggle over legitimacy, in which a particular group suc-
ceeded in delegitimizing and criminalizing particular practices.71 In theory,
the winner—the state—then holds absolute power in regulating practices on
the formerly disputed territory. However, in establishing itself as the dom-
inant and ﬁ nal regulatory authority, the state has not necessarily managed
to erase all other regulatory authorities or other actors involved in regula-
tion.72 Both the Ugandan and Congolese sides of the border illustrate how
the state regulatory framework is not strictly and universally implemented,
but is instead “negotiated” with nonstate actors.73
Analyzing the relation between another rebel group on the Ugan-
dan-Congolese border (RCD-ML) and the local trading community, Raey-
maekers highlights how traders do not necessarily operate on “the margins
of the law,” that is, disengaged from the state, but instead “increasingly
became makers of the law itself, which included a fundamental reinterpre-
tation of the state’s role in (trans)national regulatory practices and episte-
mologies.”74 Similarly in Ariwara, state ofﬁ cials cannot implement the state
regulatory framework of national taxation, as they must negotiate with
nonstate actors—the local trading community and wider population—which
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State Engagement in Informal Trade on the Uganda-Congo Border 185
leads to lower levels of taxation. Thus, regulatory practices and governance
in general are not the purview of the state alone, but are profoundly inﬂ u-
enced by nonstate actors. The failed attempts of the Congolese state to intro-
duce uniform levels of taxation shows that the state is not even necessarily
the strongest actor in this negotiation.
An important factor in this negotiation process consists of perceptions
of “legitimate” governmental practices. Since the traders and general pop-
ulation in Ariwara considered the new taxation rates to be illegitimate, the
government representatives could not succeed in implementing them.
To return to the theoretical debate: issues of legality and illegality
should not take the state as a point of departure, but should instead differen-
tiate between “what states consider to be legitimate (“legal”) and what peo-
ple involved in transnational networks consider to be legitimate (“licit”).”75
In other words, there is a profound difference between norms and rules
of formal political authority and how the participants in these transactions
perceive such acts. This became particularly clear with regard to the infor-
mal cross-border trade on the Congolese side of the border where “legal”
trade (which follows the state regulatory framework by paying the necessary
taxes) is strongly held to be illegitimate by the local population. Although
the activities of the FAPC rebels were illegal (they were smuggling goods in
and out of the country and were using their monopoly of violence to protect
their activities), their taxation measures were considered to be legitimate
because their low taxation rates reduced market prices. Moreover, the FAPC
invested some of its proﬁ ts into the area through its “development fund,” for
example by constructing a football stadium and helping to ﬁ nance the local
university. Although relatively minimal, these investments were perceived
to be better than those of the national state. According to a local taxi driver:
“During Jérome’s time, the border was ﬁ nally proﬁ ting us!”76
On the Ugandan side of the border, these “intermediate” social actors
have a long history of participating in the informal trade and in manipu-
lating borders. At ﬁ rst, the informal economy was clearly a sign of disen-
gagement of the state (particularly under Idi Amin). The increased presence
of the state in this area and its efforts to regulate informal trade had a
double effect. On the one hand, the informal economy had ﬂ ourished in
response to an absent and violent state during the 1970s and 1980s. After-
ward, increased state engagement during the 1990s and from 2000 onwards
made conditions much more difﬁ cult for many traders and pushed out a
considerable number of them. And yet, the increased state presence did not
necessarily lead to an increased institutionalization of law and order, but
has instead led to a deepening of informal trade practices for the remain-
ing powerful traders (tycoons) having the necessary connections to state
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186 Kristof Titeca
ofﬁ cials. This cooperation has led to a different regulatory authority, which
allows these tycoons to monopolize large-scale informal trade. Depending
on which regulatory framework a commodity is in, it risks being conﬁ scated
or not. For example, commodities smuggled by the tycoons across borders
receive protection from a number of state ofﬁ cials and therefore acquire
de facto legality. In other words, legality and illegality are blurred concepts
when one analyzes “real governance” on the ground, since they only refer
to the state regulatory framework and do not take into account other regula-
tory mechanisms at play.77 From a historical perspective, a similar reasoning
can be made, as similar commodities smuggled at different periods in time
achieve a different status. For example, because of the weakness of the state
regulatory framework until the 1990s, it was much easier to smuggle con-
traband commodities across borders. Although they were illegal, the risk of
conﬁ scation was relatively limited.
A similar situation is in place on the Congolese side of the border, where
regional smuggling networks persist. These “tightly knit” smuggling net-
works came into existence during the war, but relied strongly on preexisting
regional trading networks. The war served further to entrench these trading
networks, which continued after the formal end of the conﬂ ict. This not only
shows the large continuity of peace-war-peace economies; it also shows the
multitude of actors involved in regulating informal trade. The fact that the
rebels left the territory and were replaced by the state did not automatically
mean that the state became the ﬁ nal regulatory authority. Instead, the alter-
native regulatory framework continued to exist with the involvement of a
multitude of actors, including the state and former rebels.
The informal economy plays an important role in sub-Saharan Africa, also
in the country of Uganda. The collapse of the state and “formal” economy
under the regime of Idi Amin, combined with the economic crisis of the
1970s, led to the emergence of the informal economy. In this general con-
text, the population organized a system of economic development outside
of formal institutions. The informal economy then gained more visibility
in the 1980s, and became consolidated in the 1990s.78 This does not mean
that the informal economy is a “recent” phenomenon. Looking at the Ugan-
dan-Congolese border region showed how informal economic activities have
clear precolonial and colonial rules: the population along these borders has
always manipulated the border. The informal economy plays an important
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State Engagement in Informal Trade on the Uganda-Congo Border 187
role in the survival of the population; as stated in the introduction, 43.1
percent of the Ugandan GDP is estimated to belong to the informal econ-
omy.79 With regard to Congo, the work of Janet MacGaffey has shown how
the informal economy at the same time allowed the survival of large parts of
the population who had no formal employment or income, and the develop-
ment of a middle class outside of the state system.80
Notwithstanding the importance of the informal economy, it is often
approached negatively: because it avoids state control, it is considered to
be unregulated. This chapter has shown how the informal economy is not
necessarily unregulated, characterized by the absence of the state. Instead,
it has shown a plurality of regulatory frameworks at play, in which the state
and intermediate actors play different roles. The pluralization of regula-
tory frameworks is particularly prominent in borderlands and is not static:
instead, it is product of ongoing power struggles between these different
actors. The result of these power struggles is never ﬁ nal, and may ultimately
alter the balance of forces and even reverse them.81
In conclusion, the informal economy cannot be seen as a manifestation
of an a priori disengagement from or engagement with the state. Instead,
it is a constantly ﬂ uctuating and evolving process in which various forms
of state engagement and disengagement are possible. This leads to dif-
ferent ﬁ gurations in which the state and its representatives play different
roles. Sometimes these perform as powerful actors, who on the one hand
implement a state regulatory framework that regulates (cross-border) trade,
but who may on the other hand create exceptions to this, by determining
access to the most proﬁ table parts of the informal economy from which they
themselves directly proﬁ t. The Congolese side of the border shows a differ-
ent situation, as that state is not powerful enough to impose its regulatory
framework, but instead must negotiate with intermediate actors, that is, the
trading networks. At the same time, a number of smuggling networks that
were in place during the war continue in place and state ofﬁ cials play only a
peripheral role in regulating this trade. In other words, the Uganda-Congo
borderlands show how the state and its representatives can play different
roles in different regulatory frameworks, but how they are not always the
most powerful actors to regulate the trading activities at stake.
In sum, there is a difference between the construction of law, which is
a reﬂ ection of the power relationships at stake and in which “ruling elites
label, reify and punish as criminal those interactions that counter their
interest,” and the actual implementation of the law, which is a different mat-
ter because power to make laws does not necessarily translate into power to
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188 Kristof Titeca
1. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Pennsylvania, 2000).
2. Robert D. Kaplan, “The Coming Anarchy,” The Atlantic (February 1994).
3. Janet Roitman, Fiscal Disobedience: An Anthropology of Economic Regulation in Central
Africa (Princeton, NJ, 2004).
4. Kate Meagher, Identity Economics: Social Networks and the Informal Economy in Nige-
ria (Suffolk, 2010), 14.
5. Friedrich Schneider, “Size and Measurement of the Informal Economy in 110
Countries around the World.” Paper presented at a Workshop of Australian
National Tax Centre, ANU, Canberra, Australia, 17 July 2002: 6.
6. Uganda Bureau of Statistics, National Household Survey 2009/10 (Kampala, 2010).
7. Uganda Bureau of Statistics, The Informal Cross Border Trade Survey Report 2008
8. Simon Musasizi, “New Plan for Informal Cross-border Trade,” The Observer, 17
9. Kate Meagher, “Informality Matters: Popular Economic Governance and Insti-
tutional Exclusion in Nigeria.” Presentation in St. Antony’s College, Oxford,
11–12 January 2008. Unpublished paper.
10. Manuel Castells and Alejandro Portes, “World Underneath: The Origins,
Dynamics, and Effects of the Informal Economy,” in The Informal Economy, ed.
Alejandro Portes, Manuel Castells, and Lauren A. Benton (Baltimore MD,
11. Martha Alter Chen, “Rethinking the Informal Economy: Linkages with the
Formal Economy and the Formal Regulatory Environment,” UN Department of
Economic and Social Affairs Working Paper, no. 46 (2007), 5.
12. Kate Meagher, Identity Economics, 6. M. A. Centeno and Alejandro Portes “The
Informal Economy in the Shadow of the State,” in Out of the Shadows, ed. Patri-
cia Fernández-Kelly and Jon Schefner (University Park, PA, 2006), 24.
13. Timothy Raeymaekers, “Protection for Sale? War and the Transformation of
Regulation on the Congo-Ugandan Border,” Development and Change 41, no. 4
14. Field research was conducted in the borderlands between Uganda and Congo
from 2005 up to 2011. During this period, interviews were conducted with a
wide variety of actors, such as traders, government ofﬁ cials (such as customs
ofﬁ cials, security agencies and others), former rebels, the general population
(consumers), and so on. The primary site of research was northwestern Uganda
or “West Nile” and its most important town, Arua; but research was also con-
ducted in northeastern Congo, and more particularly the border market of
15. Aili Mari Tripp, Changing the Rules: The Politics of Liberalization and the Urban
Informal Economy in Tanzania (Berkeley, CA, 1997), 111; Janet MacGaffey, Entre-
preneurs and Parasites. The Struggle for Indigenous Capitalism in Zaire (Cambridge,
Bridenthal 1st pages.indd 188Bridenthal 1st pages.indd 188 6/6/2013 10:59:50 AM6/6/2013 10:59:50 AM
State Engagement in Informal Trade on the Uganda-Congo Border 189
1987); Janet MacGaffey, ed., The Real Economy of Zaire. The Contribution of Smug-
gling and other Unofﬁ cial Activities to National Wealth (London, 1991).
16. Victor Azarya and Naomi Chazan, “Disengagement from the State in Africa:
Reﬂ ections on the Experience of Ghana and Guinea,” Comparative Studies in
Society and History 29, no 1 (1987): 121.
17. Kate Meagher, “A Back Door to Globalisation? Structural Adjustment, Globali-
sation and Transborder Trade in West Africa,” Review of African Political Economy
95 (2003): 57–75.
18. Béatrice Hibou, “The ‘Social Capital’ of the State as an Agent of Deception,” in
The Criminalization of the State in Africa, ed. Jean-François Bayart, Stephen Ellis,
and Béatrice Hibou (Oxford, 1999), 81.
19. In the words of Béatrice Hibou: “Every study based on ﬁ eldwork shows that,
if many commercial networks have in fact prospered since independence, it is
partly because of the traders’ relationship with states which have the tangled,
complex social roots so characteristic of postcolonial Africa.” Ibid., 80–81.
20. Itty Abraham and Willem van Schendel, “Introduction: The Making of Illicit-
ness,” in Illicit Flows and Criminal Things, ed. I. Abraham and W. van Schendel
(Bloomington, IN, 2005), 4.
21. Kristof Titeca, “Tycoons and Contraband: Informal Cross-border Trade in
North-Western Uganda,” Journal of Eastern African Studies 6 (2012): 47–63.
22. Joel Migdal, State in Society (New York, 2001); Joel Migdal and Klaus Schlichte,
“Re-thinking the State” in The Dynamics of States: The Formation and Crises of State
Domination, ed. K. Schlichte (Burlington, VT, 2005).
23. Migdal, State in Society, 12.
24. According to this approach, the absence of the state is presumed to lead to a
“vacuum of authority’ in which the state is nothing more than “a mere geo-
graphical expression, a black hole into which a failed polity has fallen.” Robert
I. Rotberg, “Failed States, Collapsed States, Weak States: Causes and Indica-
tors” in State Failure and State Weakness in a Time of Terror, ed. Robert I. Rot-
berg (Cambridge, MA, 2003), 21. Cited in: Pierre Englebert and Dennis Tull,
“Post-conﬂ ict Reconstruction in Africa: Flawed Ideas about Failed States,” Inter-
national Security 32, no. 4 (2008): 125.
25. Thomas Bierschenk and Jean-Pierre Olivier De Sardan, “Local Powers and a
Distant State in Rural Central African Republic,” Journal of Modern African Stud-
ies 35, no. 3 (1997): 441.
26. Thomas Bierschenk and Jean-Pierre Olivier De Sardan, “Powers in the Village:
Rural Benin between Democratization and Decentralization,” Africa 73, no. 2
(2003): 145–73; Kristof Titeca and Tom De Herdt, “Real Governance beyond
the ‘Failed State’: Negotiating the Education Sector in the Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC),” African Affairs 110, no. 439 (2011): 213–31.
27. Crawford Young, “The End of the Post-colonial State in Africa? Reﬂ ections on
Changing African Political Dynamics,” African Affairs 103, no. 410 (2004).
Bridenthal 1st pages.indd 189Bridenthal 1st pages.indd 189 6/6/2013 10:59:50 AM6/6/2013 10:59:50 AM
190 Kristof Titeca
29. Karel Arnaut and Christian Højbjerg,”Gouvernance et ethnographie en temps
de crise,” Politique Africaine 111 (2008): 20.
30. Kevin Clements, Volker Boege, Anne Brown, Wendy Foley, and Anna Nolan,
“State Building Reconsidered: The Role of Hybridity in the Formation of Polit-
ical Order,” Political Science 59, no. 1 (2007): 48.
31. Richard Stren and Mohamed Halfani, “The Cities of Sub-Saharan Africa:
From Dependency to Marginality,” in Handbook of Urban Studies, ed. Ronan Pad-
dison (Thousand Oaks, CA, 2001), 474, cited in Karen Tranberg Hansen and
Mariken Vaa, “Introduction,” in Reconsidering Informality. Perspectives from Urban
Africa, ed. Karen Tranberg Hansen and Marika Vaa (Uppsala, 2004), 7.
32. Kristof Titeca and Tom De Herdt,”Regulation, Cross-border Trade and Practi-
cal Norms in West Nile, North-western Uganda,” Africa 80, no. 4 (2010): 573–94.
33. Agnès Lambert, “Les commerçants et l’intégration régionale,” in Le Sénégal et
ses voisons, ed. Momar-Coumba Diop (Dakar, 1994); Jerôme Coste and Johny
Egg, “Commerces frontalier, Politiques Agricoles et Espaces Régionaux en
Afrique de l’Ouest,” Les politiques agricoles et leur maîtrise par les acteurs nationaux,
ed. Institut de recherches et d’applications des méthodes de développement
(Paris, 1992), 111–97.
34. Mark Leopold, “Crossing the Line: 100 Years of the North-West Uganda/South
Sudan Border,” Journal of Eastern African Studies 3, no 3 (2009): 464.
35. Kristof Titeca, “The Changing Cross-border Trade Dynamics between
North-Western Uganda, North-Eastern Congo and Southern Sudan,” Crisis
States Working Paper Series 2 (London, 2009).
36. Mark Leopold, Inside West Nile (Oxford, 2005), 58.
37. Kate Meagher, “The Hidden Economy: Informal and Parallel Trade in North-
western Uganda,” Review of African Political Economy 47 (1990): 65–66.
38. Leopold, Inside West Nile; Leopold, “Crossing the Line.”
39. Leopold, Inside West Nile, 108–18; Leopold, “Crossing the Line,” 464–68.
40. Robert O. Collins, “Sudan-Uganda Boundary Rectiﬁ cation and the Sudanese
Occupation of Madial, 1914,” Uganda Journal 26, no 2 (1962): 140, cited in Leo-
pold, Inside West Nile.
41. Leopold, Inside West Nile.
42. Barbara E. Harrell-Bond, Imposing Aid. Emergency Assistance to Refugees (Oxford,
43. Titeca, “Changing Cross-border Trade Dynamics.”
44. Meagher, “The Hidden Economy,” 66; Titeca, “Changing Cross-border Trade
45. Robert Gersony, “The Anguish of Northern Uganda,” report submitted to the
US Embassy, Kampala, and USAID Mission (Kampala, 1997).
46. Reginald Green, “Magendo in the Political Economy of Uganda,” IDS discus-
sion paper, no. 164 (Brighton, 1981). Gérard Prunier, “Le magendo. Essai sur
quelques aspects marginaux des échanges commerciaux en Afrique orientale,”
Politique Africaine 9 (1983): 53–62.
Bridenthal 1st pages.indd 190Bridenthal 1st pages.indd 190 6/6/2013 10:59:50 AM6/6/2013 10:59:50 AM
State Engagement in Informal Trade on the Uganda-Congo Border 191
47. Mukohya Vwakyanakazi, “Import and Export in the Second Economy in North
Kivu,” in The Real Economy of Zaire, ed. Janet MacGaffey (London/Philadelphia,
48. Meagher, “The Hidden Economy,” 74–75.
49. Titeca, “Tycoons and Contraband,” 52.
50. Gersony, “The Anguish of Northern Uganda.”
51. Ibid; Jeroen Adam, Bruno de Cordier, Kristof Titeca, and Koen Vlassen-
root, “In the Name of the Father? Christian Militantism in Tripura, Northern
Uganda, and Ambon,” Studies in Conﬂ ict and Terrorism 30, no. 11 (2007): 963–83.
52. Titeca, “Tycoons and Contraband.”
53. Interview with ex-Arua boy, Arua, 27 January 2008.
54. Such as the various reports of the United Nations Group of Experts: United
Nations, “Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural
Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo”
(New York: 2001); United Nations Security Council, “Final Report of the Panel
of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of
Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo” (New York: 2002); Leopold,
Inside West Nile, 41.
55. This has been highlighted by several NGO and UN reports. See for example
Human Rights Watch, The Curse of Gold (Human Rights Watch: 1 June 2005). UN
Group of Experts, “Report of the Group of Experts in Accordance with Para-
graph 6 of Security Council Resolution 1552 (2004) of 27 July 2004,” 25 January
2005. UN Group of Experts, “Report of the Group of Experts in Accordance
with Paragraph 22 of Security Council Resolution 1596 (2005),” 26 July 2005.
56. Interviews with data traders, government ofﬁ cials, researchers, and journal-
ists, Arua, Ariwara, and Kampala, 2006–2011. For a detailed analysis of these
dynamics, cf. Titeca, “Tycoons and Contraband.”
57. Kristof Titeca, “Access to Resources and Predictability in Armed Rebellion:
The FAPC’s Short-Lived ‘Monaco’ in Eastern Congo,” Africa Spectrum, no. 2
58. Alex Veit, “Intervention as Indirect Rule. The Politics of Civil War and
Statebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” Unpublished PhD disser-
tation (Humboldt, 2010), 130; Human Rights Watch, The Curse of Gold, 10.
59. Veit describes FAPC leader Jerome Kakwavu as a “rebel-businessman.” Trade
was at the center of the FAPC’s activities. Veit, “Intervention as Indirect Rule,”
60. This “regional complex” was not unique: the RCD-ML, another Congolese
rebel group that operated near the Ugandan border, operated similarly. This is
described in detail by Timothy Raeymaekers, The Power of Protection. Governance
and Transborder Trade on the Congo-Ugandan Frontier, unpublished PhD disserta-
tion (Ghent, 2007). Timothy Raeymaekers, “Protection for Sale? War and the
Transformation of Regulation on the Congo-Ugandan Border,” Development and
Change 41, no. 4 (2010): 563–87.
Bridenthal 1st pages.indd 191Bridenthal 1st pages.indd 191 6/6/2013 10:59:50 AM6/6/2013 10:59:50 AM
192 Kristof Titeca
61. Human Rights Watch, The Curse of Gold.
62. UN Group of Experts, “Report of the Group of Experts in Accordance with
Paragraph 6 of Security Council Resolution 1552 (2004) of 27 July 2004,” § 70;
Human Rights Watch, The Curse of Gold; UN Group of Experts, “Report of the
Group of Experts in Accordance with Paragraph 22 of Security Council Res-
olution 1596 (2005).” For a more detailed analysis of this rebel movement, cf.
Titeca, “Access to Resources.”
63. Interviews with customs ofﬁ cials, Ariwara, 29–31 July 2009; interviews with
FEC representatives, Aru and Ariwara, 31 July 2009 and 2 August 2009; and
interviews with various traders, Aru/Ariwara, 26 July 2009, 28 July 2009, and
30 July 2009.
64. Interviews with customs ofﬁ cials, Ariwara, 29–31 July 2009 and interview with
FEC representatives, 31 July 2009 and 2 August 2009.
65. This was the situation in July 2008. Before, taxes were even lower. Interviews
with customs ofﬁ cials, Ariwara, 29–31 July 2009; interview with representatives
FEC, 31 July 2009 and 2 August 2009; and interviews with various traders,
Aru/Ariwara, 26 July 2009, 28 July 2009, and 30 July 2009.
66. Interviews with government ofﬁ cials, Aru and Ariwara, 27 July 2009, 31 July
2009, and 3 August 2010.
67. Ugandan traders import export goods into the DRC with papers of Congolese
(Aru/Ariwara) traders, so that no Ugandan taxes would have to be paid. Ugan-
dan traders then “buy” the goods from these Congolese traders and bring
them back into Uganda. However, in reality, these goods are owned by the
Ugandan traders; the involvement of the Congolese traders only serves as a
cover-up for the smuggling practices of the Ugandan traders, who receive most
of the proﬁ ts. As a Congolese trader summarizes, “The Congolese traders
are the form, the Ugandan traders are the content!” (“Les Congolais, c’est la
forme; les Ougandais, c’est le fond.”) Interview with Congolese trader, Ari-
wara, 29 July 2009.
68. Field research, 2005–2010, Arua (Uganda)—Ariwara/Aru (DRC): interviews
with Ugandan and Congolese traders, government ofﬁ cials, ex-rebels, civil soci-
ety representatives, and so on.
69. UN Group of Experts, “Report of the Group of Experts in Accordance with
Paragraph 6 of Security Council Resolution 1552 (2004) of 27 July 2004,” § 70.
70. Human Rights Watch, The Curse of Gold. UN Group of Experts, “Report of the
Group of Experts in Accordance with Paragraph 6 of Security Council Resolu-
tion 1552 (2004) of 27 July 2004.” UN Group of Experts, “Report of the Group
of Experts in Accordance with Paragraph 22 of Security Council Resolution
1596 (2005).” Interviews with data traders, government ofﬁ cials, researchers,
and journalists, Arua, Ariwara, and Kampala, 2006–2011.
71. Charles Tilly, “War Making and State Making as Organized Crime,” in Bringing
the State Back In, ed. Peter B Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol
(Cambridge, 1985), 169–91.
72. Abraham and Van Schendel, “Introduction.”
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State Engagement in Informal Trade on the Uganda-Congo Border 193
73. Kenneth John Menkhaus “Governance without Government in Somalia: Spoil-
ers, State Building and the Politics of Coping,” International Security 31, no. 3
(2006): 74–106. Timothy Raeymaekers, Kenneth John Menkhaus, and Koen
Vlassenroot, “State and Non-state Regulation in African Protracted Crises:
Governance without Government?” Afrika Focus 21, no. 2 (2008): 9.
74. Raeymaekers, “Protection for Sale?” 576. Janet MacGaffey and Rémy Bazen-
guissa-Ganga, Congo-Paris. Transnational Traders on the Margins of the Law (Oxford/
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