DW AngolaInformal Trading in Luanda's Markets, Streets and at Home Report

Informal Trading in Luanda's Markets, Streets and at Home Report


The informal trading economy began to develop in Luanda in the late 1970s or early 1980s. The second wave of returnees from the Congo/Zaire in the early 1980s appears to have played an important role in developing informal economic activities, along with former soldiers of the MPLA who had been based in countries to the north before 1975. The breakdown of the colonial economy and the failure to effectively create a planned economy in the post-independence period mean that the population of Luanda had to create its own esquemas (strategies) to survive. Part of this informal economy was hidden (an informalisation of the formal economy as nominally formal enterprises deviated further from the rules in order to continue in operation) but it began to manifest itself on the streets of Luanda and other towns. Eventually the Government permitted the concentration of informal trading in the market of Roque Santeiro in an attempt to remove informal trading from the streets. However the informal trading economy continued to grow throughout the 1980s and 1990s, creating new market places while continuing to involve trading on the streets.

The main objective of this research has been to understand how the informal trading economy has evolved in the new context of Angola post-2002. It has attempted to understand whether the more favourable context for economic activity in Angola (free movement of people and goods, stable and realistic exchange rate, economic growth on the back of petroleum production, attempts to create a favourable business environment) have had any effect on the informal economy, and in particular on small-scale informal retail trade which makes up the bulk of the informal economy in Luanda. Has this aspect of the informal economy shrunk or grown or remained as important as before? Have any of the characteristics changed, in terms of who is involved in the sector, the locations of the informal and the type of products bought and sold. Three particular locations of the informal retail economy have been examined: trading in markets, trading in the street and trading at home.