Innovation in the Informal Sector in Africa


One of the difficulties of discerning an system in many countries, is the presence of  a large . The informal sector or  as defined by governments, scholars, banks, etc. is the part of an that is not taxed, monitored by any form of government, or included in any gross national product (GNP), unlike the formal . Informal economic activity is a dynamic process which includes many aspects of economic and social theory. By its nature, it is necessarily difficult to observe, study, define, and measure.

Innovation systems approach as we know it, is based on formal organization and institutions. This makes it difficult to used in an African setting. African countries have highly informal institutions and organisations. There is also a fact that knowledge is largely not codified in formal research or other education institutions.

Therefore, efforts have been made to study and understand how innovation takes place in the informal sector. This will enable policy makers to design programs with an Innovation System that reflects the socio-economic dynamics within a country.

Innovationafrica has assembled articles and links to the subject. We have now created an own section to provide updated articles, research and links on innovation in the informal sector. We will draw lessons from Asia and Latin America, continents with large informal sectors.

Interesting articles/websites


South Africa is a country where 25% of its population is unemployed……Unfortunately a large proportion of the country lives under the bread line and have to starve, sell drugs, steel, beg or use their innovation to survive. The later is what this article about. Read more

Senegalese research on innovation processes in their informal ICT sector

These innovations (social innovation, organizational innovation, and marketing innovation) are a reflection of the Senegalese society and its organization. These innovations are based on values and thus Senegalese distributive logic versus the logic of profit prevails in the capitalist system. Read more

Making do

Wandering through winding alleys dotted with makeshift worksheds, one can’t help but feel clouded by the clanging of hammers on metal, grinding of bandsaws on wood, and the shouts of workers making sales. But soon it becomes clear that this cacophony is really a symphony of socioeconomic interactions that form what is known as the informal economy.  Read more

The Role of Women’s Creativity and Innovations in the Nigerian Informal Sector of Oke Ogun Zone

This study was guided by the desire to advance whether concerted effort could enhance the creativity and innovations of women towards empowerment. Other purposes include: establishing the level of empowerment towards attaining good growth in building the informal sector economy and enhancing the status of women in Oke Ogun zone of Nigeria; determining the problems facing the creative abilities of women in improving their knowledge and skills through training. This study adopted descriptive survey design of ex-post facto type. Proportionate and simple random sampling techniques were used to select 128 women entrepreneurs as participants from four (4) purposively selected skills. Women Creativity and Innovations for Empowerment: Read more

Africa’s Informal Economy Revealed

Steve Daniels, the founder of A Better World By Design and co-creator of Maker Faire Rhode Island, just published a book, Making Do, based on his research on informal economies in Africa. The shocker? He just graduated from college this year and is 21 years old. Here’s how one youngin’ is making inroads in the humanitarian design field. Read more

The Role of IP in Innovation Transfer between the Formal Research Sector and the Informal Sector in Uganda

This study is examining and evaluating the role of intellectual property (IP) frameworks in the exchange of innovation between formal research bodies (at Makerere University) and the informal sector in Uganda. The social network analysis (SNA) methodology is being used to examine the role of IP in the exchange of innovation in two areas: Read more

Francis Stevens George

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