Background

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Introduction

On the morning of 17 December 2011, the police began harassing the Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi because he did not have a vendor's permit. A local police officer had confiscated his electronic weighing scales, and tossed aside his produce cart. Because the customary arrangement to pay authorities three dinars daily for the property right to park his vendor’s cart on two square yards of public space had been terminated, he lost his informal access to the market.

Bouazizi, angered by the confrontation, went to the governor's office to complain and to ask for his scales back. The governor refused to see or listen to him, even after Bouazizi was quoted as saying, "If you don't see me, I'll burn myself." Less than an hour later he doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire. This sparked the Arab Spring, a revolutionary wave of both violent and non-violent demonstrations, protests and civil wars in North Africa and the Middle East.

 

THE INFORMAL SECTOR

The term 'informal sector' is used to describe employment or livelihood generation primarily within the developing world. Most workers in the informal sector do not have employment security, work security or social security. The most prevalent types of work in the informal economy are home-based workers and street vendors. 

Estimates show that the non- agricultural employment share of the informal workforce is 78% in Africa. In all developing countries, self-employment comprises a greater share of informal employment than wage employment. Self- employment represents 70% of informal employment in Sub-Saharan. The informal economy has a significant job and income generation potential. Studies in West Africa has shown that the informal sector adds up to 53% of GDP but it only contributes around 3% of all taxes collected. The economic potential of this sector is huge.

 
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References:

The Informal Economy: Fact Finding Study (PDF). Department for Infrastructure and Economic Cooperation. March 2004 • Kristina Flodman Becker
Informal Sector In Francophone Africa: Firm Size, Productivity, And Institutions (PDF), 2012 • N. Benjamin, A. A. Mbaye, I. A. T. Diop, Stephen S. Golub, D. Haughton

IMF Working Papers: The Informal Economy in Sub-Saharan Africa : Size and Determinants. Leandro Medina, Andrew W Jonelis, Mehmet Cangul. July 10, 2017

Le Point Afrique "Afrique : le secteur informel fait sa révolution". Viviane Forson. July 18, 2017.

The Power of the Poor - Full Video (YouTube). Dec 30, 2015.

The free market secret of the Arab revolutions, Financial TImes, Hernando de Soto, November 8,  2011

The Informal sector, Wikipedia

The Arab Spring, Wikipedia