The re-casting of Africa's role within the global economy
African Governance and Space (AFRIGOS) explores processes of ‘respacing’ driven by regional integration and the re-casting of Africa’s role within the global economy.
This multi-scalar project compares four sub-regions and a transport corridor within each of them. It analyses the policy agendas, and the core assumptions underpinning them, and the reasons why there is often a mismatch between official pronouncements and what unfolds.
Much of the project is concerned with the logics underpinning investments in ports, roads and railways. It also addresses the manner in which the work of agencies - including corridor management authorities, Immigration and Customs – is reshaped by hard and soft infrastructure.
Finally, AFRIGOS is particularly concerned with the perspective of those who use the various transport corridors, including truck drivers, small-scale traders and migrants.
Amongst the emerging findings are that
- transport corridors have done much more to facilitate access to global markets than to facilitate intra-regional trade, mainly because of a high level of protectionism
- investments are essentially competitive and corridor competition is often seen in zero-sum terms
- despite the technocratic language in which integration is couched, vested interests play a major part in shaping outcomes (which explains why road continues to trump rail)
- transport corridors reinforce the phenomenon of peripheral urbanism, notably the tendency of border towns/cities to grow faster than national averages
- while some corridors are characterized by long-distance trucking, corridors are creatively used by a multiplicity of actors (e.g. small traders who make use of border markets along segments of corridor).