EPD provides input at Cape Town's Informal Economy Summit

The City of Cape Town hosted its annual Informal Economy Summit at the City Hall on the 10th of October 2017, which included an input session and panel discussion facilitated by two EPD members, Professor Leslie Bank and Dr Andreas Scheba. This years’ summit was organised under the theme “Building Sustainable Informal Trading Markets as drivers of Local Area Economic Development” and the objective was to discuss how informal markets in the City can be better supported to promote enterprise growth, formalisation and inclusive economic development.

EPD was invited to give a presentation on the challenges and best practices of managing informal markets, which was well received by the sizeable audience comprising many informal traders and city officials. The talk by Dr Scheba highlighted the need for creating more opportunities at public spaces for informal traders, examined the disjuncture between policy and practice, and offered some ideas from international best practice.

During the subsequent panel discussion, which was facilitated by Prof. Leslie Bank, many informal traders voiced their concerns over the deteriorating state of informal markets due to limited infrastructure and service provision, bad management, inadequate policy and practice, financial constraints and disconnect to formal businesses and planning. While these challenges were to be discussed in more detail in separate breakaway sessions in the afternoon, the format and short time of the programme did not allow for intensive deliberations.

As a consequence, many unanswered questions remain. The event highlighted the urgent need to better manage and support informal markets, which will require a commitment by the City to provide financial resources, investments and training to traders. At the same time, traders will have to develop innovative and workable management models that can build sustainable and independent markets at public spaces.

Given the significance of the informal economy to poverty alleviation, employment creation and economic growth of the City, EPD recognises the need to conduct more research and policy engagement to understand the challenges better and formulate more developmental responses to the sector. With its expertise in inclusive urban development, spatial economy and participatory development, EPD is well positioned and keen to take on an important role in this vital endeavour.

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