Environmental reform of West and Central Africa ports: the influence of colonial legacies

Harry Barnes-Dabban*, Kris Van Koppen, Arthur Mol

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


West and Central Africa ports have historically not paid much attention to environmental issues. In the past decade, however, environmental concerns are beginning to emerge with pockets of innovative responses to environmental risks as the ports undergo institutional and infrastructural reform – most notably, with concessions to multinational terminal operators. In this article, environmental management processes in the ports of Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Douala (Cameroon), Lagos (Nigeria) and Tema (Ghana) are compared. Three aspects of ecological modernization theory: changing role of the state, growing involvement of economic actors and economic incentives, and shifting roles for civil society organizations are focused on to analyse the dynamics of their environmental reform. Findings suggest that globalization processes are a common major trigger in enhancing a gradual but still fragmented and limited process of environmental reform in West and Central Africa ports, but paces and pathways of the reform are influenced by national politico-administrative arrangements rooted in colonial legacies. Consequently, understanding and advancing environmental reform processes of West and Central Africa ports requires following trends and significant developments but also taking into account national historical trajectories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-583
JournalMaritime Policy and Management
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • colonial heritage
  • environmental reform
  • environmental risks
  • politico-administrative arrangements
  • West and Central Africa ports


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