Connectivity and competition: the emerging geographies of Africa’s ‘Ports Race’

Ricardo Reboredo, Elisa Gambino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper critically analyses Africa’s ‘Ports Race’, the massive increase in port infrastructure investment taking place across the continent since the mid-2000s. It argues that the phenomenon shapes, and is shaped by, three interconnected trends: (1) an emerging material–political–institutional lock-in to a new extractivist paradigm of capital accumulation; (2) continental governments’ growing embrace of state-led development strategies; and (3) the repackaging of globalized discourses of connectivity and idealized visions of modernity by elites to legitimize both their own political positions and what are often exploitative and environmentally destructive practices/processes. Taken together, these developments point to novel configurations of engagement playing out across the continent between transnational capital and political elites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-161
Number of pages20
JournalArea Development and Policy
Issue number2
Early online date12 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • Africa
  • development
  • infrastructure
  • megaprojects
  • ports


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