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African Urban Development in a Post-Aid Era: The ‘Dutch Approach’ to Urban Restructuring in Beira City, Mozambique


Year published: 2019
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URL Link: https://www.alexandrinepress.co.uk/built-environment/urban-land-grabs-africa

Author / Authors:

  • Murtah Shannon


A new era of African urban development is emerging at a time when global aid regimes are undergoing fundamental shifts, becoming increasingly competitive and centred on donor 'value for money'. For aid-dependent countries in Africa, these shifts are likely to have an influence on the priorities and interests associated with urban development. So far, however, their implications remain unexplored within this context. Taking this research agenda as a starting point, this article presents in-depth empirical research on a novel country/city modality established between the Netherlands and Beira City, Mozambique, known as the Beira Partnership. By means of a new masterplan and numerous follow-up projects this partnership represents an unprecedented effort at restructuring Beira City, while securing Dutch interests in the process. By unpacking the various interests and initiatives associated with this partnership, the article demonstrates how it represents an eff ort to institutionalize new claims to Beira's urban land which is fundamentally at odds with certain pre-existing land claims of the urban poor. With many similarities to exploitative developments observed elsewhere in Africa, the article demonstrates how the Beira Partnership cannot be explained as an encroachment of global capital but instead as a decidedly trans-local initiative aimed at securing Dutch influence abroad. The findings point to a distinctly geopolitical agenda which has largely alluded contemporary debate which is likely to become more pronounced as urban development continues to gain momentum.

Built Environment 44, 4 (January 2019): 397-419, special issue on urban land grabs in Africa


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