Specialised airport infrastructure to support connectivity: The case of Dube Tradeport, eThekwini Municipality, South Africa
South Africa’s policy framework is firmly committed to an infrastructure-led development path in order to support inclusive and widespread growth. The implementation of largescale transportation infrastructure spent on ports, road, rail and airports is positioned to support multi-scaled growth through trade in sub-Saharan Africa. Convergence of policy and practice-based research findings make a strong case for increasing international
trade in, and within sub-Saharan Africa, through improved international connectivity, regional integration and logistics as a strategy for shifting the growth potential of the region. The development of Dube TradePort (DTP), including King Shaka International Airport (KSIA), was based on the rationale that airports support trade and the movement of goods between global and regional economies, through improved logistics at the local level. This article interrogates the assumption that long-term investment in airport infrastructure and related industrial uses are sufficient preconditions to support trade with the expanding sub-Saharan markets. A case study approach, including interviews, observations, and document reviews, was used to better understand aircargo development at DTP in eThekwini Municipality. Previous studies on DTP have investigated how space is shaped in the vicinity of the airport through governance and ownership arrangements. This study focuses on how a purpose-built airport with precincts, containing specialised infrastructure and related uses, interacts with the flow of goods as distinct from passenger flows. Findings suggest that, while DTP plays a role in attracting foreign and local investment and related trade, structural trade dynamics are impacting on African connectivity in the movement of goods between global and regional economies.
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