Hubs, Gateways and Bottlenecks - New Transport Infrastructures and Urbanities Respacing Africa I
Date and Start Time 30 June, 2017 at 16:00
New port, road and rail infrastructure developments currently re-cast Africa's engagement with transnational politics and the global economy. This panel explores the implications of new economic infrastructures for political power and participation in specific urban localities across the continent.
Africa has long been considered peripheral to global flows of trade and production. Recent years, however have witnessed levels of investment in African transport infrastructure arguably not seen since the 1950s. New ports, roads and rail links and broader 'gateway' projects re-cast Africa's engagement with transnational politics and the global economy. In contrast to the late colonial period, European and North American funding and expertise are now in open competition with Dubai-based and Chinese as well as some well-resourced African players and their visions. Port cities, border towns and other urban or swiftly urbanizing hubs of transport are crucial nodes where past and current struggles over the enactment of these visions crystallize into concrete shapes in specific social and political settings.
This panel invites participants to explore the following questions in particular:
• Do different visions of transport infrastructure development by different funders privilege different processes of respacing Africa?
• What are the implications of new economic infrastructures for political power and participation in specific urban localities?
• Do they enable more inclusive access to economic opportunity or increase existing inequalities?
• Who are the winners and losers of new infrastructure and technologies to protect them?
• How might they shape visions of community and belonging?
We invite papers approaching these questions from various disciplinary angles.
Chair: Wolfgang Zeller
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Tangier (Morocco) as a Transregional Transport Hub: Multi-Level Visions and Multi-Actor Involvement
The paper analyses the recent development of Tangier (Morocco) into a major transport hub at the intersection of several trade corridors and world regions. The focus will be on the joint effect of development visions on different spatial levels and on the local political and economic consequences.
In the last ten years the wider agglomeration of Tangier (Morocco) has experienced unprecedented transport and economic infrastructure development, notably with the "Tanger Méditerranée" platform. The platform includes a huge container transhipment port, which has rapidly attained the first rank on the African continent. After further extension in near future, it will also become the first in the Mediterranean. Road and rail infrastructure in Tangier is also being expanded and integrates several large African and European transport corridors. The projects intend to open Tangier for foreign capital and to embed it into (trans-)regional and global trade and transport flows. The idea is to develop it into a major port city, profiting from its position at multiple (state and regional) borders, and to establish it as a transport hub between different parts of the world and a gateway both to Europe and to Africa.
The focus of the paper will be on the joint effect of the wide range of intersecting development visions coming from and addressing different - regional, national and local - scales and on their coactive and competing character. The analysis extends to the different, mostly "external" actors' involvement in urban development. Their interests and motives and the implications for political power and economic benefits on the local level are always at play. Finally, the outlook endeavours to highlight the urban repercussions of the new infrastructures, such as territorial exclusion and spatial fragmentation, which indicate uneven access to the new installations for several groups of local inhabitants.
'We want to look just like other airports': Somaliland's Hargeisa Egal International Airport as a gateway to recognition
This paper analyses an airport rehabilitation project in the self-claimed Republic of Somaliland. Building on empirical research, the main argument is that the airport is a gateway to recognition illustrating that recognition is best understood in terms of degrees rather than as either there or not.
Through an empirical investigation of a recent rehabilitation project of the self-claimed Republic of Somaliland's main airport, Hargeisa Egal International Airport (HEIA), this paper shows that the airport is used as a gateway to recognition. By actively deploying international standards of airport security, immigration control and runway reconstruction, HEIA is now connected to more international airports in the region. While Somaliland officially remains an internationally unrecognized state, the attempts to 'look like other airports', as the manager puts it, effectively enable Somaliland to become part of a larger aerial infrastructure that builds on internationally recognised standards. Based on these observations and ideas of 'degrees of statehood' (Clapham 1998) and 'degrees of legitimacy' (Caspersen 2015), I argue that recognition is not an on/off relationship. Rather, recognition should be analyzed in terms of degrees that can be sought in arenas outside formal government-to-government relations.
The many faces of gateway politics. Controversies over the port of Dar es Salaam (and Bagamoyo)
The political geographies of ports – part of the logistical infrastructure of the global economy – have received increasing attention but common transnational practices are emphasised. This paper uses controversies around ports to dig deeper. Research on Dar port is compared to that on Tema.
Africa has seen a boom in transport infrastructure investment, in particular in ports. In Tanzania alone, several major projects are under way, among them the World Bank, DFID and TradeMark East Africa-funded upgrade of the port of Dar es Salaam and a new megaport in Bagamoyo. The political geographies of ports - as part of the broader logistical infrastructure of the global economy - have recently received increasing attention (Cowen 2014, Chalfin 2010). And indeed, they raise old questions about economic infrastructure and political power anew. However, there has been a tendency to emphasis supposedly common transnational policies and practices. This paper uses controversies around infrastructure projects to dig deeper. We suggest that controversies over technical and managerial fixes reveal competing projects, claims and practices of governance. They also offer important insights into whether and how power and authority are reconfigured in new ways around large-scale infrastructure hubs. Based on secondary literature, and field research and document analysis in Tanzania, the paper will feature three controversies 1) delays in dwell time and how to fix them; 2) securitization of cargo and people; 3) 'speeding up' vs. 'scaling up' - the Bagamoyo vs. Dar controversy. The findings from Dar es Salaam will be compared with those on the so far best researched African port, the Ghanaian port of Tema.
Great Wall of Lagos: West Africa's future 'gateway'
The Great Wall of Lagos creates a new urban space built on land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean. Known as Eko Atlantic city, this area is designated as a future business hub and financial centre. This paper examines the development of Lagos as financial and economic gateway to West Africa.
The aim of this paper is to assess the impact of China in Lagos with special reference to the development of the megacity as a gateway to West Africa. This paper asks whether China's role in developing Lagos as gateway to Africa is limited to involvement in Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ). LFTZ is part of China's strategy to use free trade zones for rapid economic development both at home and in Africa. Yet Lagos is more than an industrial hub, it is also Nigeria's financial, commercial and industrial hub, housing the Nigeria Stock Exchange, Central Bank of Nigeria and the Security and Exchange Commission. A few decades ago Lagos was not on the global map, it is now being positioned as a key node in global economic and capital systems. The new development of Eko Atlantic, built inside the Great Wall of Lagos which has create new urban space, is expected to underpin the metropolis' role as financial epicentre of West Africa. The argument being put forward is that the gateway strategy in Lagos is being driven at the regional/local level by the Lagos state.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.