Security and Trade in African Borderlands

Photo by Max Böhme on Unsplash

Special issue of Journal of Borderlands Studies

Guest editor: Olivier J. Walther, Ph.D., University of Florida

Abstract submission deadline: September 15, 2020


In recent decades, the multiplication of trade facilitation initiatives in Africa has been accompanied by a deterioration of security conditions in border areas. Trade activities have been significantly disrupted by political insecurity, with major consequences for local livelihoods. One of the peculiarities of the conflicts in the continent is indeed to exploit border areas, even as states seek to promote formal exchanges.

In this context, many African countries are in the difficult situation of having to pursue their regional integration efforts without having the resources to control their borders. This imbalance in the regional integration process penalises both trade and political stability as criminal activity develop in the absence of security, while the temptation to resort to violence increases in areas where there are few trade possibilities. Because of unstable border areas, many opportunities for local territorial development are left unexploited. These include infrastructure upgrades, improved market access, food systems transformation, as well as worker mobility.

Scientific objective

The objective of this special issue is to rethink the relationships that bind trade and security in African borderlands. The special issue will make a significant contribution to the academic and policy debates related to the opening of borders to trade and their control by states and regional organisations. It will offer a unique opportunity to explore how trade facilitation initiatives, border cities and informal trade networks are affected by political instability at the margins of African states. Particular attention will be paid to the conceptual and empirical contributions that explore regional dynamics rather than case studies.

Topics of interest include the following:

  • Historical and spatial changes in cross-border trade networks
  • Regional trade facilitation initiatives (transport corridors, OSBPs)
  • Regional food value chains
  • Impact of political insecurity on border cities and markets
  • Borders, safe havens and violent extremist groups
  • Military strategies to control transnational flows
  • Technologies to securitise borders
  • Migration policies and border regions
  • Trafficking and borders


Authors are invited to send a half-page abstract (roughly 500 words) written in English to the guest editor, Dr. Olivier Walther (, before September 15, 2020. The guest editor will invite 8-10 authors to submit a full formatted paper before December 15, 2020. The guest editor will provide feedback and submit this selection of articles to the Journal of Borderlands Studies in March 2021. Please note that articles received after the deadline will not be considered by the guest editor.

  • 15 September 2020: submission of abstracts to the guest editor
  • 15 December 2020: submission of final papers to the guest editor
  • 1 March 2021: submission of the selected papers to JBS
  • March-June 2021: first round of peer-reviews
  • July 2021: revisions and re-submission by the authors
  • August-September 2021: second round of peer-review
  • October 2021-January 2022: editing and proofreading
  • Spring 2022: online publication

About JBS

The Journal of Borderlands Studies (JBS) is the primary publication of the Association for Borderlands Studies (ABS) published by Francis & Taylor. The journal publishes five issues per year. All submissions undergo double-blind review by at least two referees.


Olivier J. Walther, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of Florida, 3205 Turlington Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611, United States, @ojwalther,

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Published by Olivier J. Walther

Assistant Professor of Geography specializing in trade and political violence in West Africa

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