Capitalism and Africa's (infra)structural dependency: A story of spatial fixes and accumulation by dispossession

Tim Zajontz, Ian Taylor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Instead of expediting “Africa’s transformation”, as suggested by the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) of the African Union (AU) (PIDA, n.d.), this chapter argues that the recent upsurge in infrastructure development has reinforced the continent’s dependency on external actors and fosters patterns of accumulation by dispossession. We are helped by David Harvey’s theory of spatio-temporal fixes and the key functions it attributes to infrastructure and debt in the global system of capital accumulation. The chapter proceeds in four stages. The chapter first briefly recounts Harvey’s concepts of the spatio-temporal fix and accumulation by dispossession. In a second step, we contextualize Africa’s recent infrastructure boom and situate it against the wider saga of “Africa rising.” The third part of the chapter scrutinizes China’s rise as the continent’s new “infrastructure giant” and problematizes particularities of the “Chinese infrastructural fix” in Africa. The chapter then concludes by extrapolating some trends that we believe will become increasingly relevant in Africa’s infrastructure sector and that underline the enduring function of infrastructure as “means of dispossession” (Cowen 2017).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAfrica and the Global System of Capital Accumulation
EditorsEmmanuel O. Oritsejafor, Allan D. Cooper
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781003017486
ISBN (Print)9780367430900
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2021


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