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The urban informal sector in sub-Saharan Africa: from bad to good (and back again?)


  • Deborah Potts


Conceptualisations of the informal sector in terms of economic dualism have a long history, as have effective challenges to those conceptualisations. These are discussed in this paper, which then examines shifts in attitudes towards the role of the urban informal sector in sub-Saharan Africa over recent decades, with reference to these theoretical conceptualisations and other approaches. The paper then discusses the dynamics of the sector and the changing role of the African state in promoting or discouraging it and identifies an increasingly negative trend in this respect. Finally, the paper offers a comparative perspective, from north of the Limpopo, on current debates and policy pronouncements about the 'second economy' in South Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • Deborah Potts, 2008. "The urban informal sector in sub-Saharan Africa: from bad to good (and back again?)," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(2), pages 151-167.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:25:y:2008:i:2:p:151-167
    DOI: 10.1080/03768350802090527

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    Cited by:

    1. Marc C. A. Wegerif & Paul Hebinck, 2016. "The Symbiotic Food System: An ‘Alternative’ Agri-Food System Already Working at Scale," Agriculture, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(3), pages 1-25, August.
    2. Harris, John, 2014. "The Messy Reality of Agglomeration Economies in Urban Informality: Evidence from Nairobi’s Handicraft Industry," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 102-113.
    3. repec:spr:manint:v:53:y:2013:i:1:d:10.1007_s11575-012-0161-0 is not listed on IDEAS

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