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New Political Topographies? No rest for the curious

Chambishi Copper Mine via Zambia Reports

Chambishi Copper Mine via Zambia Reports

(Originally posted on the Edinburgh Politics and IR Blog, by Kathy Dodworth)

The contours of economic and political power don’t sit still.

Burgeoning levels of Foreign Direct Investment in sub-Saharan Africa’s  large scale infrastructural works reveal the shifting constellations of actors across the continent. New roads, ports and pipelines are in development from the Guinean coast to the (once) sleepy towns of Mtwara and Bagamoyo in Tanzania.

Rising BRIC powers are particularly identified with such developments, with China alone involved in projects in over 30 African countries, notably Angola, South Sudan, Zambia and the DRC. The proliferation of foreign business and investment within these economic zones has inevitably altered the configuration of power and authority. Some commentators go so far as to deem the Chambishi copper region in Zambia a Chinese ‘enclave’. These dynamics, however, are not solely externally driven nor purely extractive.

Intra-African trade and investment continues to rise and the investment portfolio continues to diversify. Indeed, transboundary flows in Africa are as likely to be found in informal, localized networks of exchange as in the formal economy.

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