CRC TRR 228 Project C01

Future in Chains

Socio-economic impacts of growth corridors

C01 Future in Chains


Explain socio-ecological transformation in cross-border growth corridors, and assess long-term developments and adaptive capacities connected to emerging (inter-)national value 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

Growth corridors are gaining attention as spatial tools for future development in Africa. Today, multi-stakeholder initiatives leverage corridors to integrate rural areas into global value chains under the promise of socio-economic development. Critics argue, however, that growth corridors intensify social conflicts, external dependencies, and the uneven distribution of wealth.
Importantly, contemporary growth corridors are not only multi-scalar by nature but they also create new cross-border regions between African states and the rest of the world. The question how such border regions are included in the negotiation, implementation, and contestation of corridors is central to the project.

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


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


  • To what extent can local value-chain actors appropriate growth-corridor dynamics and turn these into desirable futures?
  • Multi-temporal satellite-imagery-based and thematic mapping of research regions
  • Multi-temporal value chain mapping
  • Expert Interviews
  • Joint regional stakeholder workshops
  • Analysis of CRC household survey data
  • Focus-group discussions

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.

Through participation of international donors and investors, growth corridor projects provide apt illustrations of cross-scalar linkages in future making. Multi-stakeholder governance increases in complexity as local businesses and foreign firms contribute different visions of the future which may entail both imperatives of intensification (e.g. commercial farming) and conservation (e.g. conservation measures). This project provides explanations for socio-ecological transformations resulting from the integration of rural areas into global value chains.


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. 2024. Krise als Zukunftschance: Ist die Landflucht der Jugend in Afrika zu stoppen? Welternährung, Das Fachjournal der Welthungerhilfe, 02/24, Full Text

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., Tups, G., 2023. Supplying lead firms, intangible assets and power in global value chains: Explaining governance in the fertilizer chain. Global Networks. A Journal of Transnational Affairs. Full Text

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

Dannenberg, P., Luxen, V., Tups, G., 2022. What makes Tanzanian smallholder farmers satisfied with their life? It’s not farming! Journal of the Geographic Society of Berlin 153, No.4. Full Text

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. Full text

Kalvelage, L., Lüder, L. 2023. Regional resilience and social-ecological systems: the impact of COVID-19 on community conservation in Namibia, African Geographical Review, 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. Access Link

Kalvelage, L., Revilla Diez, J., Bollig, M. 2023. Valuing Nature in Global Production Networks: Hunting Tourism and the Weight of History in Zambezi, Namibia. Annals of the American Association of Geographers. DOI

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

Lawhon, M., Follmann, A., Braun, B., Cornea, N., Greiner, C., Guma, P., Karpouzoglou, T., Revilla Diez, J., Schindler, S., Schramm, S., Sielker, F., Tups, G., Vij, S., Dannenberg, P. 2023. Making Heterogeneous Infrastructure Futures in and Beyond the Global South, Futures, 2023,103270, 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. 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.

Nakanyete, N. F., Matengu, K. K., Revilla Diez, J. 2023. Rich resources from poor communities: An analysis of Namibia’s access and benefit-sharing legislation. Environmental Development, S. 100943. DOI

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.

Revilla Diez, J., Hulke, C., Kalvelage, L. 2023. Chapter 3 – Value Chains and Global Production Networks: Conceptual considerations and economic development in the ‘wild’. In: Ed: Currey, J.: Conservation, Markets, And The Environment In Southern And Eastern Africa Commodifying The ‘Wild’, edited by J. Currey. DOI

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

Tups, G., Sakala, E. N., Dannenberg, P. 2023. Hope and path development in ‘left-behind’ places – a Southern perspective, Regional Studies. Full Text

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

Project News

A wetland area in Tanzania

[DE] Neue Publikation: Krise als Zukunftschance – Ist die Landflucht der Jugend in Afrika zu stoppen?

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Research Initiative Sharing a Planet in Peril invited to submit full proposal for a Cluster of Excellence

2 February 2024 The research initiative “Sharing a Planet in Peril” is building an international and interdisciplinary network of researchers in order to examine how ...
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Call for Papers : Infrastructure Projects in the Global South

Call for Papers: Special Issue – Infrastructure Projects in the Global South and their unintended consequences

In this special issue of Review of Regional Research , our aim is to examine the ramifications of unintended outcomes stemming from different modern and ...
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The picture shows two hippos.

Publication: Regional Resilience and Social-Ecological Systems – the Impact of COVID-19 on Community Conservation in Namibia

By Linus Kalvelage, Project C01 Future in Chains and Lars Lüder, University of Cologne. ABSTRACT The COVID-19 pandemic severely affected wildlife areas in Namibia, where ...
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Publication: Making Heterogeneous Infrastructure Futures in and Beyond the Global South

By Mary Lawhon, Alexander Follmann, Boris Braun, Natasha Cornea, Clemens Greiner (CRC Project C02 Energy Futures), Prince Guma, Timos Karpouzoglou, Javier Revilla Diez (CRC Project ...
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Team Members

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Edith Benedict

University of Dar-es-Salaam

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Agness Chinyama

University of Zambia

Peter Dannenberg

Prof. Dr. Peter Dannenberg

University of Cologne

Javier Revilla Diez

Prof. Dr. Javier Revilla Diez

University of Cologne

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Dr. Richard Mbunda

University of Dar-es-Salaam

Mfundo Mlilo Project C01

Mfundo Mlilo

University of Cologne

Fenny Nakanyete C01 Future in Chains

Ndapewa Fenny Nakanyete

University of Cologne

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Dr. Mosses Ndunguru

Mzumbe University

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Dr. Lucas Rutina

University of Namibia

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Dr. Enock Sakala

University of Zambia

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Dr. Evans Simasiku

University of Namibia

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Dr. Godfrey Tawodzera

University of Namibia

Gideon Tups

Dr. Gideon Tups

University of Cologne

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