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Special Issue "Examining the Belt and Road Initiative in the Context of Africa’s Economic Future"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 19 October 2023 | Viewed by 311

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Victor Gekara
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Supply Chain and Logistics Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Interests: logistics technology; logistics skills
Department of Transport and Supply Chain Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Interests: transport; logistics; social equity
Department of Transport and Supply Chain Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Interests: smart mobility; road freight transport technologies; public transport; big data analytics
Department of Management Science & Project Planning, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
Interests: sustainability; e-commerce; logistics and big data analytics
Dr. Gituro Wainaina
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Management Science and Project Planning, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
Interests: water harvesting and management; public private partnerships for public projects and programmes; business analytics; championing integrity

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue explores the role of China’s Belt and Road initiative for sustainable transport and logistics connectivity in Africa for socio-economic progress. It will collate a collection of papers which, in addition to examining the architecture of the project, will critically interrogate the anticipated benefits against potential social, economic, and political challenges.  Since its inception in 2013, the BRI has attracted a lot of international scrutiny and debate, particularly surrounding its design and architecture (e.g., Huang, 2016[1]; Huges et al., 2016[2]), speculations about its role in China’s global political ambitions (e.g., Hurley et al, 2019[3]; Johnston, 2019[4]), and the potential socio-economic and environmental implications (both globally and specifically for participating countries) (Teo et al., 2019[5]; Herrero and Xu, 2017[6]; De Soyres et al., 2019[7]; Githaiga et al., 2019[8]). As its implementation progresses, the literature has turned to the initial impacts for the connectivity of global logistics, particularly to the emerging patterns of regional connectivity and the associated international infrastructure projects (Liu et al, 2020[9]; Han and Webber, 2020[10]).  This Special Issue will extend these debates, with a focus on one of the key regional links in the BRI—the African continent.

[1] Huang, Y., 2016. Understanding China's Belt & Road initiative: motivation, framework and assessment. China Economic Review, 40, pp.314-321.

[2] Hughes, A.C., Lechner, A.M., Chitov, A., Horstmann, A., Hinsley, A., Tritto, A., Chariton, A., Li, B.V., Ganapin, D., Simonov, E. and Morton, K., 2020. Horizon scan of the belt and road initiative. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 35(7), pp.583-593.

[3] Hurley, J., Morris, S. and Portelance, G., 2019. Examining the debt implications of the Belt and Road Initiative from a policy perspective. Journal of Infrastructure, Policy and Development, 3(1), pp.139-175.

[4] Johnston, L.A., 2019. The Belt and Road Initiative: what is in it for China?. Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, 6(1), pp.40-58.

[5] Teo, H.C., Lechner, A.M., Walton, G.W., Chan, F.K.S., Cheshmehzangi, A., Tan-Mullins, M., Chan, H.K., Sternberg, T. and Campos-Arceiz, A., 2019. Environmental impacts of infrastructure development under the belt and road initiative. Environments, 6(6), p.72.

[6] Herrero, A.G. and Xu, J., 2017. China's belt and road initiative: Can Europe expect trade gains?. China & World Economy, 25(6), pp.84-99.

[7] De Soyres, F., Mulabdic, A., Murray, S., Rocha, N. and Ruta, M., 2019. How much will the Belt and Road Initiative reduce trade costs?. International Economics, 159, pp.151-164.

[8] Githaiga, N.M., Burimaso, A., Wang, B. and Ahmed, S.M., 2019. The belt and road initiative: Opportunities and risks for Africa’s connectivity. China Quarterly of International Strategic Studies, 5(01), pp.117-141.

[9] Liu, W., Zhang, Y. and Xiong, W., 2020. Financing the belt and road initiative. Eurasian Geography and Economics, 61(2), pp.137-145.

[10] Han, X. and Webber, M., 2020. From Chinese dam building in Africa to the Belt and Road Initiative: Assembling infrastructure projects and their linkages. Political Geography, 77, p.102102.

Prof. Dr. Victor Gekara
Dr. Rose Luke
Dr. Joash Mageto
Dr. Thomas Ombati
Dr. Gituro Wainaina
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • belt and road initiative
  • Africa
  • transport connectivity
  • social, economic and political implications

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Europe's Global Gateway policy: the european reply to BRI in Africa
Authors: Federico Antoniazzi
Affiliation: -
Abstract: In 2021 European Commission has released a new policy to foster trade and connections globally, but with a specific focus on Africa selecting 10 priority transport corridors and a revision of external funding and financing sources. It was also quite clear in statements from EU that this policy aims at fostering European trade and position in Africa to balance the BRI and other external influences in the continent. Given the current economic and geopolitical situations, this strategy is becoming relevant in achieving transport connections also in order to foster the Africa trade union and get access to essential mineral ressources that are necessary to achieve climate change and carbon emission targets. The paper aims at providing an analysis of this policy in regards especially of the transport corridors strategy, inherited from the PIDA strategy, and to confront it with BRI initiatiave on transport corridors in Africa

Authors: Eric Mogire; Peter Kilbourn; Rose Luke
Affiliation: -
Abstract: -

Title: Explaining Road and Belt Project Failure Beyond Science: A Social World Perspective
Authors: Austen Baraza Omonyo
Affiliation: -
Abstract: -

Title: Belt and Road Initiative in Developing Countries: Lessons from Five Selected Countries in Africa
Authors: Robert Agwot Komakech; Thomas Ogoro Ombati
Affiliation: Uganda Management Institute
Abstract: Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has become a household name for developing countries, especially in Africa. After its announcement by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, 152 countries signed a cooperation agreement with China to work under the framework of the BRI. BRI has made a tremendous contribution to the global infrastructures gap through the construction of modern highways, airports, high-speed railways, bridges, power generation (hydropower), and industrial parks development which has promoted the connectivity and economic growth between Asia, Europe, and Africa continents. Despite the significant role of the BRI in spanning in strengthening trade, infrastructure and investment links between China and other countries within the network there is limited literature on countries’ experience with the BRI. This study, therefore, will advance our understanding of BRI especially the conceptualization of the term; comparative analysis of Africa- China relationships before and after BRI; the benefits in relation to the “Five Connectivities" and challenges the BRI is facing in Africa. The article is based on a literature review and case study as research methodologies mainly used the Policies, Projects, Initiatives, and Strategies (PPIS) as a source of data. The study focuses on five (05) African countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, Djibouti, and Mozambique. These countries were selected purposefully for analysis because of their experience, long relationships with China, and strategic locations. The findings revealed BRI lacked a clear description and was difficult to distinguish between BRI projects and other regular economic or diplomatic relations. The study also identified four differences between Africa – China relationships before and after BRI. Furthermore, the findings revealed BRI has strong to all the five connectivity pillars. However, the major challenges reported by the initiative from the various countries were; procurement corruption, low/ lack of involvement of stakeholders, high compensation prices, labor violations, increasing debts, and environmental hazards. In conclusion, while BRI has brought about significant infrastructure development and economic benefits, the project has also experienced some challenges. This study, therefore, contributes to the body of knowledge on China's Belt and Road Initiative and its impact on African countries, specifically in Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti, Mozambique, and Egypt. The paper then provides conclusion and policy implications as well as future research opportunities in the current body of the literature.

Authors: Francis Mogere Kimaiga; Reuben W. Kikwatha
Affiliation: -
Abstract: -

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