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Profitable inefficiency: the politics of port infrastructure in Mombasa, Kenya

  • Hugh Lamarque (a1)


This article examines the distribution of power among public, private and criminal interests invested in Mombasa port. It approaches Kenya as a gatekeeper state, in which national elites compete to control the country's points of interaction with the rest of the world. Mombasa's controversial private dry ports are used to highlight (1) how the opportunity to profit from inefficiencies in container storage has been distributed among the political elite, and (2) how the development of the country's principal seaport not only reflects Kenya's underlying political settlements, but is one of the key sites in which those settlements are tested and reshaped. The case exposes a dynamic interaction between Kenya's shifting political settlement on the one hand, and the gate itself – Mombasa port's physical infrastructure and regulations – on the other.


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The research for this article was conducted as part of a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant for the project entitled African Governance and Space: Transport Corridors, Border Towns and Port Cities in Transition (AFRIGOS) [ADG-2014-670851].



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