Policy Responses to Informality in Urban Africa: The Example of Maputo, Mozambique


Christian M Rogerson

In the global South informality constitutes one of the leading issues for urban policy makers. The planning challenges around informality are particularly relevant in urban Africa as most Africans make their livelihoods in the informal economy. This paper examines issues of state policy responses to informality through the lens of street traders. Under scrutiny are policy responses towards street trading in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, a city that has experienced the advance of informalization. It is argued that the dominant approach towards informal trading across urban Africa is of a ‘sanitising’ policy response by the local state which is rooted upon traditions of modernist urban planning in search of ‘ordered development’. The research discloses that in Maputo national and municipal authorities have adopted a more tolerant approach to the informal economy, mainly because it provides a livelihood to so many of the city’s poor and because of potential social unrest likely to be triggered by a repressive approach. In Maputo the core narrative is of an urban informal economy viewed by officials as an important livelihood for the city’s poor, albeit one which is subject both to periodic harassment and encouragement to ‘formalize’. The analysis represents a contribution to the expanding corpus of writings on Africa’s informalising cities and specifically concerning policy responses towards street trading.


Featured City: Maputo, Mozambique

Featured Country: Mozambique

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