by Oscar Meywa Otele
This article examines the influence of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on intra-regional dynamics. Given that the BRI traverses many countries, what has not been fully addressed in the literature is how the initiative is likely to influence inter-state relations in specific regions. This article fills this gap by examining the influence of the BRI on intra-regional dynamics, taking East Africa as the case study. The article finds that the implementation of the BRI infrastructure projects—the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport [LAPSSET] corridor and the Standard Gauge Railway [SGR]—has pushed Uganda and Rwanda into close partnership with Tanzania on the one hand, and resurrected historical suspicion between Kenya and Tanzania on the other. This regional realignment has produced gains and losses in the short term and is likely to alter the traditional balance of power in the long term. Furthermore, the implementation has provided agency of choice to Uganda and Rwanda to maneuver between Kenya and Tanzania, thereby aligning their choices with respective national interests. However, potential risks could reduce competition and favor cooperation, thereby promoting regionalism.
Dr. Oscar Meywa Otele is a Lecturer, Department of Political Science & Public Administration, and chairs the Biennial International Conference on China-Africa Relations at the University of Nairobi. His research interests include China-Africa Relations, Chinese Foreign Policy, and Africa’s International Relations.