Learning from African Informal Economies

Learning from African Informal Economies

The informal economy is the lifeblood of many African cities. It provides jobs for urban workers – including the most vulnerable and excluded, provides flexible services to urban residents, and makes significant contributions to urban economies, often introducing global markets. However, diversity makes the informal economy hard to capture in conventional urban policy processes, and for many informal workers precarious and dangerous work, exploitation, harassment, or evictions are a daily threat. Recognising the potential of the urban informal economy in urban planning, informal settlement upgrading, and recovery from urban violence, disasters and other crises is key to social inclusion, to local economic development and to building resilience in 21st century cities. This thematic stream provides an opportunity to reflect critically on the challenges and opportunities that the informal economy presents. Significantly, papers in this stream will identify key policy, practice, community, and technological innovations and lessons from African cities, for more effective inclusion of the urban informal economy in 21st century cities. In addition to the confirmed panels, we welcome paper and panel proposals that contribute to this broad theme.

Confirmed panel themes

  • Post-crisis urban economic recovery: the role of the informal economy


  • Law, rights and regulation of street vending in African cities


Organisers: Peter Mackie (MackieP@cardiff.ac.uk) and Alison Brown (BrownAM@cardiff.ac.uk)