Post Covid-19 African Cities: Towards a new Face of the Informal Sector

Authors: Francis Koti*, Middle Tennessee State University
Topics: Urban Geography, Africa, Economic Geography
Keywords: African cities, Informal Sector, Economy
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 11
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In February 2020, it was unimaginable that key sectors of society such as education, business, health, travel, etc would operate remotely for an unforeseeable future. Yet, this is the case nine months after Covid-19 pandemic plagued the World. In well-established economies in North America and Western Europe, government bailouts have kept economies open while it is yet to be seen what the economies of not-so-advanced parts of the World will look like. Reality however, is that in those so-called less developed economies, businesses, factories, schools, hospitals etc - have reopened despite Covid-19 pandemic. The informal sector for instance, which employs more than 70% of the population in many African cities, has also reopened. In this study, we ask: What explains the relative resilience of the informal sector in African cities during Covid-19 era? In what ways will Covid-19 pandemic change the face of the informal sector in African cities? Preliminary results indicate that the flexible nature of informal sector activities conforms to the dictates of Covid-19 guidelines - making its reopening from Covid-19 closures relatively easy. The study also predicts expansion of the informal sector in post-Covid-19 era as a refuge for urban residents affected by mainstream layoffs. This expanded informal sector could comprise some activities previously found within mainstream economic sectors such as education, Information Technology, media, healthcare, and travel among others. It is argued that creating the infrastructure to support the informal sector may hold the key to sustaining African urban economies.

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