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Nigeria’s Informal economy

By on September 23, 2011

We should reflect on our informal economy. We have an economy estimated to be worth near $42b, but with the bulk of economic activities happening in the informal economy/black market.  This is the main place where most Nigerians thrive and make their living. They encompass: street hawkers, minibus drivers, money changers or market traders etc.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that the proportion of the urban work force engaged in the informal economy is highest in sub-Saharan Africa, and accounts for more than 50% of urban employment in two-thirds of the countries surveyed in 1999.  As informality spreads, so is irregular settlements which is so pervasive that they appear to outnumber legally planned development, and their social legitimacy appears to be no longer in question.

Recalled some days back, at a mushrooming slum on the island, someone was talking about a shop where labourers go to have a cup of garri with water, groundnuts or without it, for a meal. For such shop pride itself as place of succour and networking place between hirers and labours/workers. It serves as a place of solace whereby if something goes wrong these informal workers without any pension schemes can walk in and have a meal.  It might seem bizarre and but that is one way people live in these untaxed and unregulated environment.

Also, the informal economy really is the backbone of the Nigerian economy. It is the backbone because it has kept things running for Nigerians who have had to survive decades of unfriendly policies and gruesome neglect. We are worried about the scandalizing surrounding state of things of this sector’s activities, as it constitutes a major threat to the health and well-being of urban life.

While the informal economy has been rendered in romantic terms as a form of popular development, a vital source of employment and income for the poor, the seedbed of local entrepreneurship, and a potent instrument in the campaign to combat poverty and social exclusion(Geoffrey i. Nwaka), now is the time to support and regulate the urban informal sector. Informal sector enterprises, especially those located in residential areas, pose real health hazards for the urban community, particularly for the urban poor who can least afford the high cost of health care.

We understand the policy dilemma. Trying to find balance in stemming the degrading environment of the informal sector while also not disrupting livelihoods, and causing social distress; we can start by promoting sound environmental attitudes and make access to our city easier. We have to put our eyes on these vulnerable groups: women, children, and apprentices, from harm way and exploitation.

In all, as Prof. Geoffrey I. Nwaka would advise this sector players, “collectively they must curb some of the socially unacceptable ‘coping strategies’ that tend to discredit them, such as adulteration, crime, and other sharp practices, and confine themselves to genuine activities for livelihoods which are only technically ‘illegal’ in the sense of not conforming with official regulations and bureaucratic norms that are often arbitrary and inequitable.” Now it is time for government to control informality as it drags down growth; promotes loss of potential revenues and spur poor living standards, as its spread escalate further.

  • Jibo

    we had best chance in buhari to make nigeria great but we fucked the simple reason which we know best

  • Jibo

    we had best chance in buhari to make Nigeria great but we fucked up for the simple reason which we know best