Informality and urbanisation in African contexts: analysing economic and social impacts

Informality and urbanisation in African contexts: analysing economic and social impacts

English
112 Pages

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This book gathers five papers presented to the ECAS’ 2013 proceedings. Following the theme of the Congress “African dynamics in a multipolar world”, the challenge was to select among the 118 papers presented those which focused in the subjects of informality and space reconfiguration. The papers were selected from 4 panels: “Writing the world from another African metropolis: Luanda and the urban question”, “Urbanisation and poverty in mining Africa”, “Urban imaginaries in Africa” and “Managing other people’s money: financial services in sub-Saharan Africa after structural adjustment”. In the editing process, we assumed that the intention of the authors when submitting papers to the ECAS’ proceedings was to share and collect contributions from the academic community to improve their researches. This means that all the papers in this book are considered a work in progress. The editor’s work, guided by the reviewers’ comments was limited: the main goal was to present the preliminary insights. The authors are therefore expecting to receive contributions from the readers and, thinking ahead, why not opening new communication channels?


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Informality and urbanisation in African contexts: analysing economic and social impacts

Aline Afonso (dir.)
  • Publisher: Centro de Estudos Internacionais
  • Place of publication: Lisboa
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Published on OpenEdition Books: 9 March 2017
  • Serie: ebook'IS
  • Electronic ISBN: 9782821879522

OpenEdition Books

http://books.openedition.org

Printed version
  • ISBN: 9789897325809
  • Number of pages: 112
 
Electronic reference

AFONSO, Aline (ed.). Informality and urbanisation in African contexts: analysing economic and social impacts. New edition [online]. Lisboa: Centro de Estudos Internacionais, 2015 (generated 20 March 2017). Available on the Internet: <http://books.openedition.org/cei/102>. ISBN: 9782821879522.

This text was automatically generated on 20 March 2017.

© Centro de Estudos Internacionais, 2015

Creative Commons - Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported - CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

This book gathers five papers presented to the ECAS’ 2013 proceedings. Following the theme of the Congress “African dynamics in a multipolar world”, the challenge was to select among the 118 papers presented those which focused in the subjects of informality and space reconfiguration. The papers were selected from 4 panels: “Writing the world from another African metropolis: Luanda and the urban question”, “Urbanisation and poverty in mining Africa”, “Urban imaginaries in Africa” and “Managing other people’s money: financial services in sub-Saharan Africa after structural adjustment”. In the editing process, we assumed that the intention of the authors when submitting papers to the ECAS’ proceedings was to share and collect contributions from the academic community to improve their researches. This means that all the papers in this book are considered a work in progress. The editor’s work, guided by the reviewers’ comments was limited: the main goal was to present the preliminary insights. The authors are therefore expecting to receive contributions from the readers and, thinking ahead, why not opening new communication channels?

Table of contents
  1. Introduction

    Aline Afonso
  2. The Impacts of Urban Politics on Female Street Vendors in Praia, Cape Verde

    Jacqueline Britto Pólvora
    1. Cape Verde and the City of Praia
    2. The Women Street Vendors in Praia
    3. Cape Verde: Transformations and Informalization of Daily Life
    4. Spaces, Women and Tensions
    5. Final Considerations
  3. Transformation and Production of Urban Spaces in Bamako, Mali

    Jacob Geuder
    1. Introduction
    2. Theory
    3. Methodology
    4. Fluid Spaces
    5. Fixed spaces
    6. Entrauemlichung
    7. Conclusion
  4. Informality as an Important Feature of Luanda’s Urban Process.

  1. A Closer Look at Bairro Prenda

    Joana Venâncio
    1. Introduction
    2. Urban informality
    3. Luanda and its Musseques
    4. A closer look at Bairro Prenda
    5. Conclusions (and questions)
  2. Forced Resettlements: From Impacts to Opportunities – The Case of Moatize Mine (Mozambique)

    Joana Pedro
    1. A race for coal
    2. The new world
    3. Resettlement risks
    4. What now?
  3. Pourquoi l’impact du microcrédit sur la réduction de la pauvreté en Afrique subsaharienne est-il limité ?

    Jean-Michel Servet
    1. Six conditions de niveau micro-économique
    2. Deux conditions de niveau méso-économique
    3. Deux conditions de niveau macro-économique
    4. Conclusion

Introduction

Aline Afonso

This book gathers five papers presented to the ECAS’ 2013 proceedings. Following the theme of the Congress “African dynamics in a multipolar world”, the challenge was to select among the 118 papers presented those which focused in the subjects of informality and space reconfiguration. The papers were selected from 4 panels: “Writing the world from another African metropolis: Luanda and the urban question”1, “Urbanisation and poverty in mining Africa”2, “Urban imaginaries in Africa”3 and “Managing other people’s money: financial services in sub-Saharan Africa after structural adjustment”4.

In the editing process, we assumed that the intention of the authors when submitting papers to the ECAS’ proceedings was to share and collect contributions from the academic community to improve their researches. This means that all the papers in this book are considered a work in progress. The editor’s work, guided by the reviewers’ comments was limited: the main goal was to present the preliminary insights. The authors are therefore expecting to receive contributions from the readers and, thinking ahead, why not opening new communication channels?

The theme of the space and city is, broadly speaking, a constant in these articles. This book analyses fixed, fluid, informal, working and social spaces and even new spaces created or formalised following governmental interests. The assumption that “(social) space is a (social) product”5 formally presented in Geuder’s text is also a direction followed by the authors. Informal dynamics and exclusion (latto sensu) are another leitmotif, worked from different angles in this book. Pedro, Pólvora and Venâncio focus on social and economic exclusion and Servet approaches financial exclusion. Pedro’s article also analyses exclusion from the natural resources. The exclusion caused by the transformation/change of the original space is mainly analysed by Pólvora, Servet and Venâncio. Four of the present articles are based in field researches in different areas: Bamako (Mali, adopting the “Pont de l’Amitié Sino-Malienne” as an intended starting point), Tete Province (Cateme and 25 de Setembro resettlements — Mozambique), Plateau (commercial area in Praia, Cape Verde) and Prenda (especially the musseques, a neighbourhood in Luanda, Angola).

We may find a common thread in all the papers, and still all of them introduce a unique view on the subject chosen by each author. Jacqueline Pólvora, following the transformations in Plateau area, “gentrifies” the analysis, looking deeply into the relationship between women and the urban space. She analyses the impacts in the daily working lives of the female street vendors in the Plateau — the commercial centre of Praia, where the majority of commerce and services are concentrated, besides Sucupira market), namely the plans to construct a new market6. The focus is also on the tensions and disputes over space, given the significant changes that have been promoted by the City Hall.

Jacob Geuder’s text analyses the dominant logic of the “production of space” in Bamako. The concept of Entraeumlichung is proposed to describe a significant transformation in the way space is produced and being produced. The text is based in the concepts of “space as relational space and on the assumption that space is not only socially produced but also produces the social”. Geuder’s fieldwork was abruptly interrupted by the Mali Coup D’état, which prevented the author of fulfilling his intended goal for this research trip, also interrupting a film production. This interruption led him to redefine the scope of his analysis. Even with this constraint, the text illustrates, in a very visual way (for once I felt to be in Bamako) the transformations in the “fixed” and “fluid” spaces in the city. Looking for “Fixed Spaces” the author analyses Bamako’s urban space “from a more material-structural dimension, the structures of ownership and tenureship in housing, new forms and elements in (residential) architecture and the effects of (newly) built environments”. The movement, the mobility and the (everyday) constructions of the city were the standpoint of the analysis.

Pedro’s text analyses the transformations in the quality of life of the population relocated to formal resettlements made by the mining company Vale in Tete Province, between the years of 2006 and 2011. Due to the discovery of coal reserves, the government, in partnership with Vale Company but under the company’s full responsibility, decided for a resettlement process that has affected, and will affect, several people in Tete Province. The paper focuses on two resettlements: Cateme, which received the families considered rural and 25 de Setembro, which received the ones considered urban. The author selected a set of variables to be analysed, such as: housing, education and health services’ in frastructures’ and water and energy supply, as well as the conditions offered for the maintenance of social and traditional cultural links. The author also tries to analyse the conditions of the survival practices in the new resettlement (such as the proximity to Moatize town and roads).

Joana Venâncio analysed the informal resettlements, the musseques, namely in Prenda area. The Angolan civil war was not only long but also extremely violent. It caused a migration of population from rural to urban areas in search of safety and employment, although in these areas the job opportunities were already scarce and off limits to non-skilled labour. The adaptation to life in the cities was a challenge for the migrants. Some families found available land to build shelter in the periphery of the urban centre, distant from roads and without available transportation services, while others have settled in the shantytowns inside the cities7. Venâncio analyses the process of urbanisation in Prenda area “as a closer approach to the city’s urban process”. Her analysis is based on Luanda’s architectural development. The author intents to contribute to the debate on informality, “whether this urban informality should be fought or, on the contrary, is an integrating part of Luanda’s character and, as such, should be taken into account in its relationship with the world”. Another plus of the paper is the confluence between architecture, history and sociology.

Finally, Servet’s article, written in French, aims at analysing the contributions and conditions of microcredit systems to alleviate poverty. Microcredit programs, as Servet highlights, are a well-known topic in the academic world. The author analyses the relations between the concession of the credit and several variables such as: the beneficiaries (or “the customers”, in the authors’ words), the use and cost of the loans (in relation with the business profitability) and the grantor’s technical capacity. Through the analysis of the data presented, the article aims to contribute to the (re)design/revision of microcredit programs.

ECAS received texts from lecturers, masters and PhD students as well as junior and senior researchers. This book intends to be as inclusive as ECAS was. The set of papers here presented aims to represent the growing interest in the themes of informality and space, which permeates different disciplines, here represented by the authors’ different backgrounds: architecture, sociology, anthropology, political science and environmental engineering. Likewise, this book intends to indicate (new) possibilities for research in the broader thematic of space and informality.

Bibliography

Afonso, A. (2011). ‘We Create Minimum Conditions’: Survival of the Female Market Vendors of Luanda in The Post-War. In Rodrigues, C. & Costa, A. B. (Orgs.), Poverty and Peace in the Portuguese Speaking African Countries (pp. 54-69). Lisboa: Centro de Estudos Africanos (ISCTE-IUL). In http://hdl.handle.net/10071/2721

Imam, A. (1997). Engendering African Social Sciences: An introductory essay. In Imam, A., Mana, A. & Sow, F. (Eds.), Engedering African social sciences. Dakar: CODESRIA.

Notes

1Coordinated by Ricardo Cardoso (UC Berkeley) and Cristina Udelsmann Rodrigues (ISCTE-IUL).

2Coordinated by Deborah Bryceson (University of Glasgow) and Cristina Udelsmann Rodrigues (ISCTE-IUL).

3Coordinated by Ilda Lindell (Stockholm University) and Onyanta Adama (Nordic Africa Institute).

4Coordinated by Jose-Maria Munoz (University of Edinburgh) and Philip Burnham (University College London)

5Present in this book by Geuder, according to Lefebvre’s work.

6According to Imam (1997, p. 23): “Fundamentally, gender analysis highlights the necessity of considering ideology, subjectivity and consciousness, and the role of this ‘non-material’ process in politics, productions relations, democratic process and the state. For instance, the investigate of various forms of gender relations indicates that’s despite women’s involvement in central aspects of productive labour, even in the contexts were their economic contributions are sustaining households and communities, patriarchal ideologies ensure women’s subordinations. They do so by rendering women’s and men’s labour incommensurate, devaluing women’s labour and rendering it invisible an ‘non-economic’”.

7 Afonso, 2001, p. 60.

Author
Aline Afonso

Centro de Estudos Internacionais (CEI-IUL), Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Avenida das Forças Armadas, 1649-026 Lisboa, Portugal
alineafonso@hotmail.com

The Impacts of Urban Politics on Female Street Vendors in Praia, Cape Verde

Jacqueline Britto Pólvora

This paper1 explores two main concerns. The first is an investigation on the relationship of people with the urban space, on a macro perspective and the second, on a micro perspective, reflects on the different policies, practices and discourses that force or perpetuate social exclusion in cities. Therefore, this research has focused on the cities’ excluded groups, be it from the point of view of their geographical location (the outskirts), be it in relation to the exclusion from benefits that life in the city should provide. Thus, the discussion here highlights some ingredients related to living in informality. Instead of the classical focus that emphasizes the economic aspects of informal activities, from an anthropological standpoint this research is interested in daily working lives of women who act informally in central spaces of the city of Praia, particularly in neighbourhoods such as Plateau, where trade and administrative activities take place.

In my research, I have wondered about the relationship of people with the space where they live, specifically in the urban environment. In the case of these female street vendors in Praia, I follow the changes taking place in spaces in the city centre (Plateau) as well as in other neighbourhoods. In this process, in the first place I wish to analyse how these women see the space where they work and, then, what they think about these changes and how they affect their work and lives2. This research is an ethnographic study of female street vendors, which includes participant observation and informal conversations, as well as interviews conducted during the working days of the ladies. Besides, I also resort to institutional data (from the City Hall, National Statistics Institute, United Nations and its institutional branches).

My analysis of space pervades the theoretical body of human and cultural geography (Harvey, 1985, 2008; Lefébvre, 1974; Massey, 1994; Soja, 1993; Sassen, 1993, 1994, 2007), as well as that of the anthropology of space (Low, 2000; Smith, 1996). Despite the diversity of perspectives, for all these authors, the urban space is considered one of the fundamental parts in the gear that makes the current global capitalism work. Thus, and following my interpretation of these authors, the urban space would be the smoke and at the same time, the engine of the economic system where it belongs. In this sense, modern capitalist societies impart upon space (and also time) the idea and sensation of progress, and what comes along with it, which is the conversion of a physical area into capital. Therefore, urban spaces are spaces par excellence where the global capital circulates, which causes some cities to concentrate and often surpass the importance of nation states per se (Sassen, 1993, 1994, 2007). At the same time, the concentration and circulation of capital in “global cities” generates and reproduces a polarization both at local and global level. In this sense, the concentration of capital − and the dispute for it − creates internal and external (global) polarizations, through which social groups are being differentiated either by their place in the structure of the social classes or, also, by origin, gender or racial and ethnical belonging (Massey, 1994, pp. 146-156). Finally, space here is seen not as a separated and autonomous entity, but as being produced from social relations. In the case of Cape Verde, this production is deeply influenced by the economic relations and strongly determined by the women who occupy it and make it the place to produce their livelihood and that of their families.

Following the reviewed literature, I read and understand space through the observation of the processes of social exclusion that take place in big cities over time. A relevant discussion concerning these processes focuses on the numerous strategies and justifications that lead to exclusion and, almost always, segregation of minority groups, in search of revaluation of urban areas that up until then had been degraded and with little investment. Gentrification: this is the common formula by which capital moves in the cities, through real estate investments, with a view to commercial exploitation and very little − if any − social benefit (Davis, 2006; Smith, 1996). Here I will approach such process, which has been taking place in the city of Praia. Finally, I follow the assumption that, although economic relations dictate the pace of social relations in the cities, and modify the spaces with the claim of generating capital, people who go to and use these spaces have different experiences and perceptions. Thus, they also, attribute multiple meanings to space, which do not always match public policies. Conflicts between these different perceptions and city policies are not uncommon. When I approached the female street vendors in the city of Praia, I was precisely looking at these different perceptions, through ethnographic account. Therefore, I also dwell on these conflicts, in order to better understand urban issues within the Cape Verdean context and, by extension, West Africa.

Cape Verde and the City of Praia

The city of Praia, on the island of Santiago, is the country’s capital , although the first settlement was what nowadays is known as Old City (Ribeira Grande de Santiago, 1497). Ribeira Grande de Santiago was the first European nucleus in African lands. Praia, founded in 1615, was subsequently chosen (1858) to be the capital of the country because, as the literature suggests, Ribeira Grande offered less conditions of security if attacked. Besides, Praia had better areas to serve as port for the colonial goods (Estevão, 1989; Pires, 2007, pp. 23-68).

Cape Verde is an archipelago of ten volcanic islands, nine of which are inhabited. Their land is known for its aridity, except for a set of hilly areas of some islands, which retain a little more humidity and have more water sources. The climate is dry tropical, meaning that more or less nine to ten months of the year present a dry and hot climate, with short spells of two or three months of rain. This means that only 10% of the country’s lands are arable and it produces only 15% of its consumption. Small agriculture generates part of this consumption and provides support for many families in the interior of the islands.

According to the World Bank (2011), in 2007 around 9% of the GDP came from immigrant remittances. Currently, in the context of the global financial crisis, these remittances have diminished, as well as foreign investment, which impacted the country’s economy. In 2007, the World Bank also raised the status of Cape Verde and classified it as a Middle Income Country, not due to the economic income itself, but for a series of items that the World Bank considers important for such status3. This distinction may be understood as an affection of the World Bank for the adoption by Cape Verde of neoliberal policies ruling global economy, and whose effects have been, among others, an increase in unemployment and cuts in public budgets for social spending. As it is known since the Washington Consensus, international institutions established rules to lend money to less developed countries, and these rules forced countries to follow recipes to economic adjustments (Williamson, 1990, 2004). Under the title of Middle Income (Country) many countries can no longer send aid as they used to. Besides, and still according to the World Bank, in rural areas 30% of the population lies within the range of absolute poverty, being the most affected children, young people and women.

In terms of population distribution, according to Cape Verde’s National Institute of Statistics (INE) and the United Nations / Habitat (UN/HABITAT − United Nations Human Settlements Programme), in 2010 the country amounted to almost 492.000 people, of which roughly 303.000 (slightly over 60%) live in rural areas (United Nations Human Settlements Programme, 2010, p. 243). Praia has the largest urban concentration of the country, almost 128.000 people.

Since 2008, the city of Praia has been undergoing renovations understandable through the strategies traced in the 07/2008 decision, from the Praia’s City Hall. This document specifies that they aim at: “making the city safe, (...) clean (...); (...) cosmopolitan, modern and dynamic from the economic and cultural point of view; an inclusive city showing solidarity” (Conselho de Concertação Estratégica, 2008). These transformations concentrate on some key areas, especially the historical centre of the city (Plateau). They included the creation of an area for pedestrian use (25 de Julho Street), which got a new paving, some tree seedlings, and where bars and restaurants are allowed to use part of the public space to serve their clients. The new pedestrian area has also held seasonal fairs of local products and handicrafts, besides other information and social programs as, for example, campaigns for disease prevention, volunteering or combatting the violence against women. The surrounding streets are receiving new pavement on the sidewalks. The municipal public market is also listed for being refurbished and, with this initiative, the women vendors shall also be removed to another area − outside the Plateau − where the municipal administration intends to build a commercial centre and some of these female vendors shall receive a new space for sales.

When interviewed, the ladies claim not knowing for sure if they will have to leave the market where they currently are and, should that be the case, when it would happen. In the case of the vendors dealing in the street itinerant trade − surrounding the current market and in the area of the historical centre − at present they do not have a space to sell and they do itinerantly. The vast majority of the ladies I interviewed revealed that they do not know if they will have an space in the market in the future, as they do not feel included in the changes taking place or being planned. At the same time, the City Hall promoted training courses to the sellers as guidance to improve their work4. The content of the training was reported by the ladies as “good manners”: “how to treat the clients”, “how to organize the merchandise”, “how to keep clean the surroundings”, etc. If, on one hand the City Hall fails in communicating the decisions, on the other, it offers this training, seen as a way of controlling and establishing a discipline of selling.

The Women Street Vendors in Praia

My interest in the women street vendors of Praia is especially due to two reasons. Firstly, in Praia, as in many other urban centres of developing countries, it is impossible not to come across street vending, given that these ladies dominate the street commerce in the city. Secondly, due to the fact officially acknowledged, that women are the majority of informal workers in the country. This also reinforces my findings in a previous research done in Brazil.

The ladies who work as informal street vendors come from neighbourhoods distant from the centre − new and old, as well as Plateau, the historical colonial centre. These ladies, the rabidantes, are part of the soul and life of that area. Rabidante is a word in local Creole that was brought to me as: get by, get along with it, find your own way…. The study on rabidantes by the economist Marzia Grassi defined the word as “get through”, “get along” (Grassi, 2003, p. 24). In short, being rabidante is how some ladies call themselves and their selling activities − on the street or at fixed places. It is an accepted and understood term for this activity among the inhabitants of Praia. Moreover, it carries in itself the denomination of people who “get by”. In...