Africa urged to curb informal sector

via Africa urged to curb informal sector | The Herald June 16, 2015

African member-states should come up with innovative policies to stem the increasing informalisation of the continent’s economies, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira has said.

Addressing the 41st African Regional Labour Administration Centre (ARLAC) meeting of ministers in Geneva, Switzerland, last week, Minister Mupfumira said the informal economy was marked by “acute” decent work deficits.

She said the informal sector thrived in the context of high unemployment, underemployment, poverty and gender inequality.

“This no doubt is a major cause for concern for ministries of labour, particularly for Africa where the majority of the labour force is in the informal economy,” Minister Mupfumira, who is the ARLAC chairperson said.

“The fact that informality is gaining ground and remains a crucial development challenge does not mean absence of an innovative policy implementation to fight vulnerable employment and working poverty. In this context, we at ARLAC are privileged to have a centre mandated to look into such issues. This is more so because what our colleagues in the developed world may term the informal economy is far removed from the harsh realities affecting Africa.”

The Ministers’ meeting was held on the side lines of the 104th session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland that ended over the weekend.

Minister Mupfumira commended African countries’ dedication to ARLAC, saying this was the only way they could brainstorm, analyse and proffer solutions to the challenges bedevilling labour administration on the continent. ARLAC, which is head-quartered in Zimbabwe, is an intergovernmental training institution of English-speaking African countries in labour and employment.

“ARLAC is the main platform, where we can share current policy debates and good practices to promote decent work and transition to formality that are practicable and based on our experiences,” she said.

“It provides us with an opportunity to examine labour challenges in greater detail as they affect us as a continent.”

Minister Mupfumira urged some of the 20 ARLAC member-states that are not honouring their obligations, including subscriptions to reconsider their positions.


  • comment-avatar

    The informal sector arises because of lack of formal employment opportunities. Formal employment opportunities in many African countries, like Zimbabwe, are few because of unfriendly investment environments.

    Just a few days ago, Little Flower Farm in Goromonzi was forcibly taken under the never ending “no law land reform program” that characterises Zimbabwe’s investment landscape.

    This will potentially lead to another 150 informal sector ‘entrepreneurs’.

  • comment-avatar
    R Judd 7 years ago

    Initiatives to stem the informalisation of government would be more productive an appropriate. What ZANU has done to Zimbabwe being a case in point

  • comment-avatar
    Canisio Mutsindikwa 7 years ago

    The Honourable minister has a lot of homework to do. This homework includes trying to understand the genesis of the informal sector. Maybe I can assist her a bit. The informal sector is a consequence or a reaction to a macro-economic environment where the government is not doing its part to provide services. Maybe Western sanctions have caused the government’s lack of capacity to come to the rescue of the people by creating an enabling business environment for the formal sector that the honourable minister vouches for. The Western sanctions have ostensibly caused companies to close leading to the disappearance of the formal sector. If people disappear from the formal sector with its orderliness they reappear elsewhere – in the informal sector. This is an unavoidable natural reaction which NO ONE can stop. In this scenario government’s legitimacy to control an informal sector which has just sprouted is lacking and where government and formal institutions have not assited. The government may need a lot of research to comprehend the operation of this sector. The problem, Honourable minister is that the informal sector is a survivalist strategy. The best way to view this is to see the people as having no option. So instead of a blame game or trying to remove the people the solution lies in putting our heads together and seeing the viable options hitherto unexplored which can unlock this potentially dangerous situation. Since sanctions have done much damage we lack financial stamina why don’t we shift economic policy a bit and allow FDI to come in from West, East, South, North and within. For the meantime in line with this strategy we can revise our indigenization policy and continue to modify it but meeting our current needs. We must take the economy seriously since it has implications on the stomach and hence can end up in a serious problem and possible chaos. The situation is not easy Mrs Minister. What we need now is to sober up and know that we did not ask people to start the informal sector in the first place and in the same vein we cannot just think we can persuade them to leave their survival strategy where no option exists. As your fellow Zimbabwean I feel there is much room to avert disaster. Unity is the paramount thing….not the current schisms we are witnessing. We love this country and all its people so please take a deep breath, relax and go back to macro economic policy and loosen some stirrups and all will be well. Wish you good luck as you start these changes and we will live happily ever after. Even a little effort in that direction will suffice for the besieged people of Zimbabwe. Despite all the pessimism yes we can. Something can be done by those in the government of Zimbabwe. There is still hope ma Comrades. Let us summon what’s left of our will and save our jewel in time. All of us need to take up the mantle regardless of political affiliation. OK!

  • comment-avatar

    When you deliberately destroy formal business, what do you expect?

    The never-ending stream of stupidity coming out of the AU and pisspot countries like Zimbabwe amazes me.