The World Changes, but Cities Do Not Move: on East Africa's Economic Geography and Integration

From AfricaCan End Poverty Fri Jan 4 2013, 09:58:38

In 1884, the General Act of Berlin Conference established borders of African colonies. Many of these "exogenous" borders brought about by Scramble of Africa could be still found on modern maps, now separating sovereign states. About one third of all countries of Sub-Saharan Africa - much larger portion compared to other parts of the world - are landlocked.

Since trade with other countries is important for economic development, and since transportation by sea is much cheaper than any other type of transportation, the evolutionary process of "endogenous" formation of the nation states in other regions left few countries without access to sea. It was not impossible, but certainly more difficult, to develop as a nation without such.

The borders affect the location of Africa's cities, many of which were founded in the late 19th - early 20th century. More landlocked countries generally mean more cities located inland. And even in the coastal countries, location of major cities was not infrequently dictated by the economic logic of colonialism. Nairobi is an example. A supply depot of the Uganda Railway built to export agricultural commodities from fertile inlands of East Africa was constructed in 1899 in the temperate highlands free of malaria, about 500 km away from the coast. Soon it became the railway's headquarters, a large colonial settlement, and a home to the region's largest industrial cluster serving East African markets.

The world has changed since. There are no more colonies in Africa, and the logic of today's global economy dictates that in order to achieve and sustain high rates of economic growth the low-income countries need to export manufactured goods (or services) to large markets. But the legacy of the past does affect the present: cities do not move even if the world changes, and in a highly competitive environment of the global economy, few firms wishing to serve global markets would choose to increase their transportation costs margins by locating ...

[view whole blog post ]
 See More    |     Report Abuse

You might also be interested in the following news stories:

Africa:   Pope Francis Received by President Kenyatta (news)
The Star
25 November 2015

Pope Francis landed at the JKIA at 4.32 pm on Wednesday and was received by the President, several senior state officials, Catholic bishops and sisters. [read more]

Africa:   Agenda of Pope Francis' Five-Day Visit to Africa (news)
Radio France Internationale
25 November 2015

During the visits to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, Pope Francis is expected to hold public masses, meet religious and political leaders and promote a message of reconciliation and ... [read more]

Kenya:   President Reshuffles Cabinet, Expands State Departments (news)
The Nation
24 November 2015

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday reshuffled his cabinet announcing that the changes were necessary for effective service delivery. [read more]

blogAfrica is's platform to help you keep an ear on the African blogosphere. We draw diverse voices from around the world who post regularly and insightfully about African issues. Bloggers, submit your blog's rss-feed!

Today's Featured News
Mozambique Ruling Party Faces Tough Contest

Renamo supporters: Ruling Frelimo faces a stern challenge at Wednesday's polls from...

Surge in Central African Republic Violence

African Union troops in Bangui (file photo): The UN has expressed alarm...

Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana Get Crucial Wins

Asamoah Gyan of Ghana (file photo): The Super Eagles have boosted their...