Challenges Of Being an Entrepreneur; Street Vending Across Africa

August 06, 2023, by Tadala Fumie

Challenges Of Being an Entrepreneur; Street Vending Across Africa by Tadala Fumie

Walking along urban streets of several cities across Africa, you will be welcomed by hordes of pedestrians and the hooting of vehicles while paving the way for them to pass through a heavily congested road.

Among other things that are taking place in urban cities and regions, street vending is the principal cause of accidents as this is making the already narrow roads narrower when the space for pedestrians is occupied by vendors selling merchandise.

In cities like Nairobi in Kenya, Maputo in Mozambique, Dodoma in Tanzania, Harare in Zimbabwe, Abuja in Nigeria, Tshwane in South Africa, and Blantyre in Malawi these are overcrowded streets just to, mention a few.

A street vendor is a person who offers goods or services for sale to the public without having a permanently built structure but with a temporary static structure or mobile stall (or head-load). Street vendors could be stationary and occupy space on the pavements or other public/private areas, or could be mobile, and move from place to place carrying their wares on push carts or in cycles or baskets on their heads, or could sell their wares in moving buses.

But how can we deal with the issue of street vending?

According to state laws and policies, street vending is illegal as it raises debate on the individual right to work and the collective right to public space.

Public space is understood as a collective space that every citizen is obliged to occupy without infringing on the right of fellow citizens to have it.

In addition to this, street vending is also perceived to be an inefficient, backward, irrational, and frequently unhygienic form of economic activity, and street vendors are paraded as tax evaders and illegal consumers of public services and spaces.

It is a drawback to the business industry as challenges remain spotted and still, the way forward is to go by the state rules

It has been noted that street vendors compromise efforts to institute order in the organization and utilization of urban space.

Precisely in Malawi, Mzuzu University geography lecturer Ignasio Jimu argues that it is critics, often from middle-class orientations, the educated, and those highly placed in society who perceive street vending as a social problem and the vendors as saboteurs of the urban economy.

In the process of dealing with street vending, the city councils have been engaging the police to drive the people out of the street this is once in a while and some people say the police demand something to do this good work. What if the government, through city councils, joined hands to deal with this illegal behavior?

Street vendors are not in the streets because of a lack of market space. Among some of the reasons for them to snub designated areas are fear of tax, following customers, and running away from shop rentals.

Some vendors complain that markets are too small to accommodate people running small businesses. As a result, they resort to going to the streets and selling their commodities to people who are passing by while some are saying they assist customers who do not have time to go to the market by taking the commodities to the streets.

Despite all the reasons people give, street vending exposes weaknesses in urban management systems and the city managers must find ways of dealing with this illegal activity.

Informal vendors are now taking the very scarce space that was meant for pedestrians. Yes, illegal activities will always be more profitable than legal ones. But this is not how things should be. Let us clean our urban areas by implementing strategies that will boost the industry and local economies.

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