Project C01, Future in Chains

Project Summary

In the first phase of our project we identified spatial structures, characteristics, and dynamics of infrastructuring through the establishment of growth corridors including intended (e.g. economic growth) and unintended impacts on local businesses and livelihoods (e.g. household insecurities, polarization, and exclusion). We could explain corridor dynamics and their unintended impacts through the examination of (1) underlying visions, and (2) the governance of the corridors. Infrastructuring processes through growth corridor policies provide powerful mechanisms of future-making: by emptying the future from alternative perspectives and claiming space, as for example effected by powerful lead firms of agricultural value chains at SAGCOT or by conservationist policies of the state and NGOs in KAZA, alternative futures tend to be ignored. This explains why and how large parts of the rural population and their visions remain excluded. Indeed, corridor -making occurs rather selectively and often does not reflect the realities of the agrarian population in the rural hinterlands.

Our results indicated that in particular rural–urban and cross-border relations play a special role in value-chain and corridor activities. This observed uneven spatial manifestation and evolution of the unintended economic dynamism requires a deeper understanding of the territorial and temporal developmental effects of the growth corridors. To this end, we expand our conceptual framework and empirical focus on corridor and value-chain analysis by adding a relational perspective on cross-border territory and regional path creation.

Research Regions: Namibia, Tanzania

Keywords: Human Geography, Economic Geography

Key Questions

1) How do cross-border growth corridors affect the territorial configuration of value chains?

2) How do these territorial configurations impact the evolution of existing and emerging value chains?

3) To what extent can local value-chain actors appropriate growth-corridor dynamics and turn these into desirable futures?


Our project applies a social sciences-informed mixed method approach. We use in depth expert interviews and focus group discussions from long-term research stays to understand different wanted and unwanted futures associated with the mobilization of growth corridors as well as its materializations in form of value chains. Additionally, we use quantitative data from the CRC household survey, but also project-based business surveys to contextualize our qualitative data.

Key Findings from Phase I

In the first phase of our project (2018-2021) we identified spatial structures, characteristics and dynamics of growth corridors including intended (e.g. economic growth) and unintended impacts on local businesses and livelihoods (e.g. household insecurities, exclusion, diversification). We could explain these impacts and dynamics partly through underlying visions and the governance of the corridors and their relations to global and regional value chains, national policies and donor activities. These included different practices of future making (i.e. emptying the future and claiming space) by powerful lead firms, national and international programmes and policies (e.g. KAZA), but also unintended developments from below. Here our results indicated that urban-rural and cross-border relations play a special role in value chain and corridor activities.


Aring, M., Reichardt, O., Katjizeu, E., Luyanda, B., and Hulke, C. 2021. ‘Collective Capacity to Aspire? Aspirations and livelihood strategies in the Zambezi region, Namibia’, The European Journal of Development research. DOI

Breul, M., Hulke, C., and Kalvelage, L. 2021. 'Path formation and reformation: studying the variegated consequences of path creation for regional development', Economic Geography. DOI

Dannenberg, P. and Hartmann, G. 2019. 'Stairway to Heaven oder Highway to Hell? Neue Entwicklungskorridore am Beispiel SAGCOT in Tansania' 2019 (11) pp.42-46.

Dannenberg, P., Revilla Diez, J. and Schiller, D. 2018. 'Spaces for integration or a divide? New-generation growth corridors and their integration in global value chains in the Global South', Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie, 62(2), pp. 135-151.DOI

Gargallo, E. and Kalvelage, L. 2020. 'Integrating Social-Ecological Systems and Global Production Networks: Local Effects of Trophy Hunting in Namibian Conservancies', Development Southern Africa. DOI

Hartmann, G., Mwaka, I. and Dannenberg, P. 2021. 'Large investments, small farmers: A financialisation perspective on value chains in a development corridor', Development Southern Africa, (38(1), pp. 122-138. DOI

Hartmann, G., Nduru, G. and Dannenberg, P. 2020. 'Digital connectivity at the upstream end of value chains: A dynamic perspective on smartphone adoption amongst horticultural smallholders in Kenya', Competition & Change, 25(2), pp. 167-189. DOI

Hulke, C., Kairu, J. and Revilla Diez, J. 2020. 'Global Visions, Local Realities – How Conservation Shapes Agricultural Value Chains in Zambezi Region, Namibia', Development Southern Africa. DOI

Hulke, C., Kalvelage, L., Kairu, J., Revilla Diez, J., Rutina, L. 2022. 'Navigating through the storm: conservancies as local institutions for regional resilience in Zambezi, Namibia', Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society. href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Full text. href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">DOI

Kalvelage, L., Bollig, M., Grawert, E., Hulke, C., Meyer, M., Mkutu, K., Müller-Koné, M., Revilla Diez, J. 2021. ‘Territorialising Conservation: Community-based Approaches in Kenya and Namibia’, Conservation and Society. href="">Access Link

Kalvelage, L., Revilla Diez, J. and Bollig, M. 2020. 'How much remains? Local value capture from tourism in Zambezi, Namibia', Tourism Geographies. DOI

Kalvelage, L., Revilla Diez, J.. and Bollig, M. 2020. 'Do tar roads bring tourism? Growth corridor policy and tourism development in the Zambezi region, Namibia', The European Journal of Development research. DOI

Kiesel, C., Dannenberg, P., Hulke, C., Kairu, J., Revilla Diez, J., Sandhage-Hofmann, A. 2022. 'An argument for place-based policies: The importance of local agro-economic, political and environmental conditions for agricultural policies exemplified by the Zambezi region, Namibia', Environmental Science & Policy, vol. 129, pp. 137-149 DOI

Mausch. K., Harris. D., Revilla Diez, J. 2021. Rural Aspirations: Reflections for development planning, design and localized effects. The European Journal of Development Reseach. Link

Meyer, M., Hulke, C., Kamwi, J., Kolem, H., Börner, J. 2022. 'Spatially heterogeneous effects of collective action on environmental dependence in Namibia’s Zambezi region', World Development, Vol. 159, 106042. href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">DOI

Müller-Mahn, D., Dannenberg, P. and Klagge, B. 2019. 'Das ländliche Afrika im Umbruch: Entwicklungskorridore und die Transformation des Agrarsektors', Geographische Rundschau. 2019 (11) pp. 10-16.

Parshotam, A. and Revilla Diez, J. 2019. 'Economic Growth Corridors Through a Value-Chain Lens: The Case of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor in Tanzania', in Scholvin, S., Black, A., Revilla Diez, J. & Turok, I. (eds.) Value Chains in Sub-Saharan Africa. Heidelberg: Springer, pp. 61-77.

Steffens, V., Hartmann, G. and Dannenberg, P. 2019. 'Eine neue Generation von Wachstumskorridoren als Entwicklungsmotor in Afrika?', Standort, 43, pp. 2-8.DOI

Tups. G., Dannenberg, P. 2021. 'Emptying the Future, Claiming Space: The Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania as a Spatial Imaginary for Strategic Coupling Processes. Geoforum, Volume 123, pp. 23-35. DOI

Vehrs, H.P., Kalvelage, L., Nghitevelekwa, R. 2022. 'The Power of Dissonance: Inconsistent Relations Between Travelling Ideas And Local Realities in Community Conservation in Namibia's Zambezi Region', Conservation & Society, [Epub ahead of print], Link to preprint

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