Governing Infrastructure Interfaces

Cities, technical systems and institutional connections

Governing Infrastructure Interfaces focuses on transport and sanitation infrastructure in Ethiopia’s two largest cities to investigate the relationship between development goals and the contribution made by new infrastructure.

This project investigates the governance of urban infrastructure interfaces in two Ethiopian cities, the capital Addis Ababa and the second largest city Dire Dawa. The interfaces or connection points bring together different technical characteristics (e.g. large/small scale), governance regimes (e.g. formal/informal) and disciplinary expertise (e.g. engineering/social policy).

Understanding the boundaries between infrastructure interfaces tends to be neglected in urban research. Yet it is here where many critical questions for cities arise: who governs, who decides, who funds? Based on comparative case study methods, this project will examine two interfaces: transport (rail/local transport) and sanitation (city-wide/local) infrastructures in each of the two case study cities. Combining socio-spatial analysis with institutional analysis of infrastructure governance, it aims to better understand the relationship between development goals and the contribution made by infrastructure rollout.

This project investigates the material infrastructure interfaces within transport and sanitation systems respectively and how these are constituted by non-technical, administrative and political governance regimes. The project recognises the fundamental role of both systems as drivers of urban growth and as critical determinants for poverty reduction and people’s well-being. It also acknowledges urban infrastructure as a hard policy instrument linked to discrete decision-making and a unique opportunity for the purposive design of cities.

Long-term urban growth and poverty elimination includes improved transport for the movement of both goods and people.  The aspiration of reducing urban poverty and inequality, embraced by Ethiopian national policies, through the African Union’s 2063 vision and via the Sustainable Development Goals, hinges on the institutional capability of making cities more attractive places to live, visit and invest in.