This project examines the production of political orders around deep-sea ports in Africa. Focusing on the intersection between territorial states, corporates and non-Western hegemons, the project asks: What kind of polities emerge around ports, and with what consequences for the political order of host states?
This project examines the production of political orders around deep-sea ports in Africa. As part of global logistics networks, deep-sea ports are currently expanding and proliferating. In Africa, this development is often supported by parastatal logistics companies from states such as China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. Focusing on the intersection between territorial states, corporates and non-Western hegemons, the project asks: What kind of polities emerge around ports, and with what consequences for the political order of host states?
Through ethnographic fieldwork, policy analysis and process tracing, the project studies and compares the political orders in two rising logistical hubs in the Horn of Africa: Doraleh Port in the state of Djibouti and Berbera Port in the de facto state of Somaliland. While competing for geologistical importance as gateways for land-locked Ethiopia, both Djibouti and Somaliland have been targeted by the Dubai-based logistics company DP World for investments in port facilities, and by UAE and Saudi Arabia for the construction of military bases. Furthermore, China is operating a terminal in Djibouti, after Djiboutian authorities ousted DP World, and has opened its first overseas military base in the same country.
These developments form part of a larger, port-focused scramble for influence in the Horn of Africa. Affecting already volatile economic and security relations in the Horn, the project documents a currently unfolding empirical case with policy implications for Denmark and other donors by uncovering the impact that new logistics hegemons have on the region – and how regional authorities navigate these developments. The project uses this knowledge to conceptualise the land-sea nexus as a way to explain how local and regional political orders are shaped in logistically driven forms of global capitalism.More info on the project here