Tuesday, 31 October 2023 09:52

RSPP Call for Papers | Special Issue: Rethinking the Regional Development Opportunities and Challenges in Southern Africa


Regional Science Policy & Practice (RSPP)

Call for Papers Special Issue: Rethinking the Regional Development Opportunities and Challenges in Southern Africa

Guest Editors

Tazviona Richman Gambe: Postdoctoral Fellow – University of the Free State, South Africa (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Joel Chaeruka: Senior Lecturer – University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

Regional development has been a key focus area in the post-independence era of African countries. Various scholars have focused on regional socio-economic development policies (Rambanapasi & Darkoh, 1998; Rakodi, 1990; Harrison & Turok, 2017), regional development strategies, and regional disparities that persist in African countries, especially focusing on infrastructure provision and politics of difference (Todes & Turok, 2018; Raftopoulos, 2019). Regions are complex spaces that are inherently fluid and make it difficult to have a one-size-fits-all approach to their development. With the increasing attention and focus on sustainability, resilience, and inclusivity espoused in the sustainable development goals, it becomes critical to interrogate how regions are constrained and the opportunities they provide in enhancing these aspirations.

Several issues have been inherent in regions that affect successful regional development in recent years. Among these have been issues of climate change that significantly affect the socio-ecological status of regions, thus bringing new complexities into these spaces and calling for new approaches and methodologies for understanding these problems. Key questions also emerge mainly on the issue of food access and security in regional development (Arnalte-Mur et al., 2020). This is a key issue considering the persisting food insecurities bedeviling most regions in Southern Africa. Yet, regional development planning tools, methods, data, and policies have not been fully developed and comprehended. For example, regional planning in some African countries has remained mainly on paper with little practical application (Landau, 2011). Challenges behind this abound. Apart from the lack of development funds, complexities of operating regionally (Odero, 2001), and unavailability of replicable regional development tools and methodologies, the acute shortage of regional data has affected regional development practice (PlanAfric, 2000; Potts, 2018; Gambe et al., 2022).

Notwithstanding this, scholars have pointed to the opportunities available to revive regional development efforts. These include the re-conceptualisation of regional planning as a powerful tool with the potential to address regional development problems in Southern Africa, renew the interest amongst practitioners to think, undertake research, and operate regionally (Odero, 2001; Scholvin et al., 2022), training regional scientists in tertiary institutions with the skillset required in regional development practice, creating databases with a regional focus, formulating and implementing regionally-based policies, and undertaking rigorous research on Southern Africa’s experiences in regional development and future prospects (Chazireni, 2003).

The special issue themes include but are not limited to the following:

  • Theoretical and philosophical approaches to understanding regional development
  • Socio-spatial justice and regional development
  • Regional development strategies and policies
  • Regional local economic development
  • Regionalism and indigenous knowledge
  • Regional development and urban mobility (transport systems)
  • Integrating food systems and regional development
  • Climate change and regional development planning
  • SDGs and regional development
  • 4IR and regional development
  • Data management and regional development
  • Regional analysis tools, methods, and models
  • Urbanisation – opportunities and challenges
  • Regional migration challenges and opportunities

Important Dates:

Deadline for Submission of Full Papers: 15 December 2023

Notification of Accepted Papers: 31 March 2024

Expected Date of Publication: 01 July 2024

Submission Guidelines: Full papers should be submitted on or before 15 December 2023. All papers should follow the writing style stipulated by the Regional Science Policy & Practice - RSPP. Early submissions are encouraged and will be processed immediately. All submitted papers will undergo the normal peer-review process. Once accepted, papers will be published on a rolling basis and will be compiled in a special issue when enough papers are available.


  • Arnalte-Mur, L., Ortiz-Miranda, D., Cerrada-Serra, P., Martinez-Gómez, V., Moreno-Pérez, O., Barbu, R., ... & Šūmane, S. (2020). The drivers of change for the contribution of small farms to regional food security in Europe. Global Food Security26, 100395.
  • Chazireni, E., (2003) The spatial dimension of socio-economic development in Zimbabwe. University of South Africa (Dissertation)
  • Gambe, T. R., Geyer, H. S., & Horn, A. (2022). Economic resilience of city-regions in Southern Africa: An exploratory study of Zimbabwe. Regional Science Policy & Practice, 14(2), 438–455.
  • Harrison, J., & Turok, I. (2017). Universities, knowledge and regional development. Regional Studies51(7), 977-981.
  • Landau, L. (2011). Contemporary migration to South Africa: a regional development issue. World Bank Publications.
  • Odero, K. (2001). Review of Zimbabwe's experience with regional development planning. Working Paper.
  • PlanAfric (2000) Issues and problems rural district planning in Zimbabwe: A case study. International Institute for Environment and Development.
  • Potts, D. (2018). Urban data and definitions in sub-Saharan Africa: Mismatches between the pace of urbanisation and employment and livelihood change. Urban Studies, 55(5), 965-986.
  • Raftopoulos B (2019) Zimbabwe: Regional politics and dynamics. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics
  • Rakodi C (1990) Policies and preoccupations in rural and regional development planning in Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Simon, D. (ed), Third world regional development: A reappraisal, pp. 129-153. London: Paul Chapman.
  • Rambanapasi C. O., & Darkoh M. B. K., (1998) A general overview of regional planning in the SADC region. Journal of African Research and Development, 1997/98, Vol. 27/28 (1997/98), pp 1-44
  • Scholvin, S., Turok, I., Visagie, J., & Diez, J. R. (2022). Regional value chains as new pathways to development?. Area Development and Policy7(2), 177-186.
  • Todes, A., & Turok, I. (2018). Spatial inequalities and policies in South Africa: Place-based or people-centred?. Progress in Planning123, 1-31.
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