Publication: “Little Dubai” in the crossfire – trade corridor dynamics and ethno-territorial conflict in the Kenyan–Ethiopian border town Moyale

By Katrin Sowa, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Cologne.


Against the promise that new trade corridors in Africa lead to political stability and state control, this article presents a contradictory case. In the context of the implementation of the LAPSSET corridor, Moyale at the Kenyan–Ethiopian border has been undergoing a transformation. The formerly marginalized border town is today envisioned as a major trade hub for the region. However, this development has been recurrently disturbed not only by trade barriers and import regulations but also by violent clashes between local communities. Moyale’s history, economic rivalries, and an intra-federal boundary dispute make the new corridor a specifically dangerous setting for the local population, while alternative smuggle routes are perceived as more reliable and secure. The text provides insights into ethnographic research in a particular violent surrounding. Qualitative interviews and participant observations were conducted with locals and border officials in Moyale during clashes between the Borana and Garre communities in 2018. The article aims to understand trade and security strategies on the ground, which are far from being controlled by state monopoly.


Sowa, K. 2023. “Little Dubai” in the crossfire: trade corridor dynamics and ethno-territorial conflict in the Kenyan–Ethiopian border town Moyale, Journal of Eastern African Studies. DOI

More CRC News

poster for a public lecture by the crc future rural africa

CRC-TRR Public Lecture: Stéphanie Domptail & Sakeus Kadhikwa

Mon | June 3, 2024 | 16:00 – 17:30  CEST The Future Rural Africa Public Lectures Series is back with a double header! Dr. Stéphanie ...
Read More »
picture taken during a workshop at the university of bonn

“Prevention and Handling of Sexual Harassment”: CRC-TRR Board for Gender Equality and Diversity Organises Interactive Lecture For All Project Members

Gender equality and diversity are crucial aspects for our research centre as they foster a culture of inclusivity and bring diverse perspectives, experiences, and ideas ...
Read More »

Registration Open: University of Bonn Diversity Days 2024

22 – 23 May 2024 To mark German Diversity Day, the University of Bonn’s Vice Rectorate for Equal Opportunity and Diversity, together with the unit ...
Read More »
Event Poster for a Public Lecture

CRC-TRR Public Lecture: Regina Birner

Mon | May 6, 2024 | 16:00 – 17:30  CEST We are excited for the next volume of the Future Rural Africa Public Lectures Series. ...
Read More »
A student from the workshop uses a corer to take a wood sample for the estimation of wood density, which is required to accurately estimate the tree’s carbon storage.

UNAM Students gain hands-on experience during field practical in Namibia with scientists from project A01 “Future Carbon Storage”

By Ezequiel Fabiano, Katharina Stein, Julian Krausen and Anja Linstädter (Future Rural Africa Project C01 “Future Carbon Storage”). After ecological fieldwork in southern Zambia, a ...
Read More »
Scroll to Top