From the maskani to the mayor: The political economy of heroin markets in East and Southern Africa


The trafficking of heroin is a crucial component of urban politics and development in East and Southern Africa. The heroin economy has shaped the growth of small coastal villages, border towns and megacities along the Southern Route – a network moving Afghan drugs south across the Indian Ocean and onward through Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique to South Africa. Rapid and dysfunctional urbanisation, the migration of low-skilled youth throughout the region, unemployment and the inability of local governments to cope with service delivery needs have contributed to the spread of the drug, building fortunes for a few ‘big fish’ and promoting corruption among police and politicians.

About the author

Simone Haysom is a Senior Analyst at GI TOC. She has previously worked as a researcher at the Overseas Development Institute in London and spent several years as a consultant on issues to do with forced displacement, urban development, organised crime and policing.

Photo © Amelia Broodryk – ISS adapted from duncan c/Flickr

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