Across eastern Africa, extractive and infrastructure projects (both state-led and private) of unprecedented scale are underway, many located in marginal rural areas. While promoting integration, the growing presence of an 'extractive regime' may worsen state-society tensions at the margins.
Across eastern Africa, a host of domestic and foreign investors, both states and private companies, are pursuing a range of extractive projects to harness the region's rich deposits of oil, gas and minerals, as well as wind, water and geothermal power. The scale of these investments is unprecedented in the region, with many projects located in marginal rural areas. Examples include Ethiopia's US$4.8 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project, and oil exploitation operations in northern Kenya and western Uganda. Governments in eastern Africa are also marshalling international capital to expand regional infrastructure - roads, railways, pipelines - to facilitate resource extractions while also opening up the region to other capitalist development. These largely spatial processes overlay complex and in some places contested regional political economies. Regional integration in this sense is often seen somewhat benignly, as part of wider development and economic growth, and even a precursor to peace-building. Many marginal areas of eastern Africa have been accorded a new national and regional relevance. Yet, given the top-down implementation and assumptions about development, it is important to question whether there are circumstances in which growth corridors and resource extractions could worsen violence. There is evidence that the growing presence of an 'extractive regime' - encompassing exploration and extractive operations, and political institutions and security architecture around these - worsens state-society tensions at the margins, animating long-standing struggles around public authority in these places and in some cases resulting in new violence.