Sunday 24 April 2016

Integrating Informal Trade

City planning and urban design in many African cities are based on western and colonial standards that ignore the informal economy.  However, informal trade has been identified as one of the main sources of employment and it is estimated are that this provides between 20 and 75 percent of employment in many African countries. A range of benefits are associated  with informal trading including:

Creates employment
Requires very little capital
Can improves security as there are more 'eyes on the street'
Convenience, as goods and services that can be accessed easily
Can improve street life and the vibrancy of an area or street
Reduced transport impacts as local access is provided to services and goods
Increased city efficiency as densities and trade is increased
Improved resilience through diversity in the local economy
Reduced cost and waste as repairs on items like appliances and shoes are carried out instead of these being disposed of

Despite these benefits, there is very little support for informal trade and many city plans and policies ignore informal trading.

Informal trade can be easily designed for in new streets and be supported through interventions in existing streets.  The example below shows how a city block, individual buildings and city furniture, such as bus stops can be modified to support informal trading.  These interventions are described below, with the numbering referring to the numbers in the sketch.
Existing city block (left) and the same city block with integrated informal enterprises (right)


2. Pavement
3. Semi-private area that could be used by employees to access food provided by an informal trader who could also supply passing trade.
4. Food and beverage informal trader with stool seating that did not impinge onto pavement pedestrian traffic.
5. Small informal trading stall with awning which could sell small grocery or other items and receive power from the building. It can also be secured and closed off from the street. By occupying an 'indentation' in the building informal trade would not affect passing traffic.
6. Small lockable compartments where traders could park mobile sales trolleys and goods at night instead of having to transport these. During the day, these trolleys would positioned in street locations where traders would sell their goods.
7. A plant nursery run by an informal trader in a garden of an established local business. To reduce costs, traders could enter into agreements with landowners to maintain gardens in return reduced rental for prime locations.
8. A cafe run by an informal trader in a garden belonging to an established business. To reduce costs, traders could enter into agreements with landowners to provide in-house catering  in return for reduced rental for prime locations.
9. Trading locations designated on streets for designed for mobile trolleys which provide appropriate shelter and services such as power.
10. Bus stop
11. Informal businesses which are able to assist with some of the non-core services required by established businesses such as printing, stationary and courier services. These would be accommodated on established business premises and would provide services to both the passing other local businesses, passing trade as well the established business.

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