«Street Vendors in Accra, Ghana by Nana Akua Anyidoho July 2013 Accra Informal Economy Monitoring Study: Street Vendors in Accra, Ghana Field research ...»
IEMS Informal Economy
Street Vendors in Accra, Ghana
by Nana Akua Anyidoho
Informal Economy Monitoring Study:
Street Vendors in Accra, Ghana
Field research for this report was conducted in Accra between July - November 2012. The Accra Research Team
consisted of: Nana Akua Anyidoho, Clement Adamba, Robert Afutu-Kotey, Dorcas Ansah and Kweku Kyere.
Nana Akua Anyidoho is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana. She has a BA in Psychology and a PhD in Human Development and Social Policy.
Nana Akua is interested in the intersection of policy processes with people’s everyday lives. Her recent research focuses on the work aspirations and prospects of young people; policy discourses on women’s empowerment;
and the informalization of women’s work.
Membership-Based Organization Coordinator Dorcas Ansah is an experienced development practitioner with a background and expertise in facilitating processes, organizational development interventions, gender mainstreaming and training. Dorcas is the Voice and Advocacy Manager of Strengthening Transparency, Accountability and Responsiveness in Ghana (STARGhana) a multi-donor fund support programme which aims at increasing the influence of civil society and Parliament in the governance and management of public resources.
Technical Advisors Francie Lund is director of WIEGO’s Social Protection Programme, and a Senior Research Associate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban. She is lead researcher in WIEGO’s Occupational Health and Safety Research and Advocacy for Informal Workers project, and Accra is one of the six cities, in five countries, engaged in this project. She is especially interested in the intersection between social protection and urban planning.
Mike Rogan is a WIEGO Research Officer for the Informal Economy Monitoring Study (IEMS) and is based in South Africa. He is currently a part-time lecturer in the graduate programme of the School of Built Environment & Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), South Africa. Mike holds a PhD and a Master’s degree from UKZN and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of Washington in Seattle. Prior to completing his PhD, he was a research fellow at the Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division at UKZN. His research interests include: gender, employment, health, poverty and inequality, evaluation methodologies and reproductive health.
Acknowledgements This report is based on research conducted by Nana Akua Anyidoho, Clement Adamba and Robert AfutuKotey of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana. George Owusu provided logistics and administrative support for the quantitative survey. Dorcas Ansah and Kweku Kyere facilitated the research as liaisons between the researchers and the membership-based organizations that participated in the research. We are very grateful to the leaders and members of StreetNet Ghana Alliance in the following locations who took time off work to share their experiences in the focus groups and survey: Makola, Kantamanto, Circle, Madina, Abokobi and Agbogba. We hope that the outcome of the Informal Economy Monitoring Study will be of eventual benefit to you and to other informal workers.
Publication date: July 2013 ISBN number: 978-92-95095-68-7 Published by Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO). A Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee – Company No. 6273538, Registered Charity No. 1143510 WIEGO Secretariat WIEGO Limited Harvard University 521 Royal Exchange 79 John F. Kennedy Street Manchester M2 7EN Cambridge, MA 02138, USA United Kingdom www.wiego.org Copyright © WIEGO. This report can be replicated for educational and organizing purposes as long as the source is acknowledged.
Full citation: Anyidoho, Nana Akua. 2013. Informal Economy Monitoring Study: Street Vendors in Accra, Ghana.
Manchester, UK: WIEGO.
Cover photograph by: D. Mireku Design by: Julian Luckham of Luckham Creative About the Informal Economy Monitoring Study The Informal Economy Monitoring Study (IEMS) is a major, longitudinal study of the urban informal economy being undertaken initially at two points in time, 2012 and 2015, in 10 cities around the world: Accra, Ghana; Ahmedabad, India; Bangkok, Thailand; Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Bogota, Colombia; Durban, South Africa; Lahore, Pakistan; Lima, Peru; Nakuru, Kenya; and Pune, India. The study combines qualitative and quantitative research methods to provide an in-depth understanding of how three groups of urban informal workers – home-based workers, street vendors, and waste pickers – are affected by and respond to economic trends, urban policies and practices, value chain dynamics, and other economic and social forces. The IEMS will generate panel data on the urban informal economy.
In each city, a team of five researchers worked in collaboration with a local membership-based organization of informal workers from April 2012 to April 2013 to collect and analyze the first round of the data.
All city research reports, as well as sector reports (one each for home-based work, street vending and waste work), a global report, and other information on the study can be found at www.inclusivecities.org and www.wiego.org.
Table of Contents
vi IEMS Informal Economy Monitoring Study Executive Summary Recent statistics show the majority of workers in developing countries earn their livelihoods in the informal economy. The Informal Economy Monitoring Study (IEMS) is a qualitative and quantitative study designed to evaluate the reality for these workers’ lives. With research conducted over three years in 10 cities, the IEMS aims to provide credible, grounded evidence of the range of driving forces, both positive and negative, that affect conditions of work in the informal economy over time.
Informal workers and their membership-based organizations (MBOs) are at the centre of the analysis.
The Research in Accra In Accra, WIEGO partnered with the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) and StreetNet Ghana Alliance, which is composed of MBOs of vendors, traders and hawkers. Two variables were selected in order to draw a purposive quota sample: 1) sex; and 2) location – whether the vendors traded in the city’s Central markets or in non-Central locations. Vendors were selected from three Central market associations: Makola Traders Association, Kantamanto Traders Association, and Circle Traders Association. In the non-Central locations, vendors were sampled from three branches of the Ga East Traders Association: Madina, Agbogba and Abokobi. All participants were fixed-market vendors.
Fieldwork consisted of 15 focus groups involving 75 vendors, held in July and August of 2012.
Forty participants were from Central markets and 35 from non-Central locations. Focus groups had between four and six participants each and utilized nine tools – organized around the themes of sector characteristics, driving forces and responses, the institutional environment, and contributions of the sector to the city – to generate data related to the conceptual framework. A subsequent survey was administered between September 5 and November 6, 2012 to 150 vendors, including the 75 focus group participants. In total, 51 men and 99 women took the survey – 76 from Central and 74 from non-Central locations.
Key Findings This report analyzes the survey responses and the data in the detailed focus group reports.
The study confirms that informal work is essential to urban livelihoods. Almost 88 per cent of participants rely on informal work as the primary income for their household. Fewer than 9 per cent said their primary source of household income is formal sector wage employment. While the most common form of other income is remittances – received by over 26 per cent of households – only about 3 per cent primarily rely on these.
Men on average enjoy significantly higher turnover (total value of sales) than women vendors, most likely because men more often trade in higher value items, while women tend to sell food or small items. Also, those within Central locations reported turnovers more than twice that of their nonCentral counterparts, probably due to the higher customer traffic in the city centre.
However, overall the vendors experience financial instability and hardship, despite working between 56-66 hours in a week. Over 60 per cent reported their revenue had fallen in the past year – yet nearly the same percentage reported a greater volume of sales. This highlights the declining profitability in the sector that many of the vendors described.
Livelihood difficulties within the sector are heightened, the vendors said, mainly by negative macroeconomic forces, problems accessing credit, competition, and a lack of support from local governments.
Positive and Negative Driving Forces Accra’s market vendors emphasized the impact of negative driving forces over the positive. When they did identify positive forces, all groups most frequently cited special occasions that increased demand for goods. Occasions that slowed sales – whether holidays or rains – had a corresponding negative impact. The second most important positive factor was a healthy economy that increases demand through higher employment and disposable income among the customer base.
A good economy also means loans are more readily available at lower interest rates. In fact, the availability of loans from a variety of sources (including non-bank financial institutions and grouporganized rotating savings systems) was a top-ranked positive macroeconomic driving force.
Street Vendors in Accra, Ghana However, vendors expressed ambivalence about loans because of high interest rates and the risk that they will be unable to repay their debts. Nonetheless, loans are needed to increase or maintain working capital – and became more necessary due to negative macroeconomic forces. As one noted, “You know, this was not what it was like before. At first, you didn’t have to take loans because you could make enough money to live on, but now….” Another vendor picked up the thread. “There are so many people who have had to run away because they have defaulted on their loans.” Negative forces loomed larger in the vendors’ lives. Here again, the findings reveal the significant impact of the overall Ghanaian economy on informal workers. The two most frequently cited negative forces, a falling currency and growing inflation, posed great concern. Inflation drove up the cost of living and affected work capital. The depreciating cedi combined with high import tariffs to increase the cost of imported goods, affecting profit margins. While participants frequently gauged the cedi against the rising value of the US dollar, it was noted that for traders who import goods from neighbouring countries, the value of the cedi against the CFA (the currency of francophone West Africa) and the Nigerian naira was just as important. As one male vendor said, “You have to use more of the cedi to buy fewer goods than you would’ve previously.” However, the most obvious responses to address these problems are not always achievable – 31 per cent of vendors said negotiating lower prices from suppliers is difficult, while 55 per cent said negotiating higher prices with customers is difficult. Losing customers, in particular, is a fear. This is exacerbated by competition from larger retailers and supermarkets.
Competition was an oft-cited concern. Cheap imported goods in the market place were another facet of this problem. In the focus group discussions, competition was often linked to the presence of “foreigners”. While the vendors saw some positive effects of foreign contractors, they saw the activities of foreign traders as detrimental. Seizure of goods by city task forces was also linked to competition when manufacturers call in officials to seize and destroy fake items that are in breach of patents, causing the informal vendors to take a loss.
Perceptions and Relations with Government The vendors almost uniformly perceived governments negatively, both for their inaction and for actions. Only two positive driving forces were identified in relation to any government. Vendors in one group stated that the city’s designation of a market site and allocation of space to vendors helped them avoid evictions and seizures of goods. Expansion of electricity to new settlements – particularly in the non-Central areas of Agbogba and Abokobi – was the second positive force because it could result in more customers as people move into these areas.
Among the overwhelmingly negative driving forces related to government, the greatest concern was the lack of an environment conducive for work. Vendors cited municipal failures to provide electricity, pipe-borne water, toilet facilities and refuse disposal. In addition to being basic necessities, electricity and pipe-borne water were described by vendors as inputs for their work; food sellers used water to cook, for instance, and tailors needed electricity for their sewing machines. While survey data showed the vast majority of vendors had access to toilets, water and storage, the focus group discussions suggested the quality of the facilities was inadequate. The issue of cost was also raised; for instance, toilet facilities may be privately owned rather than a public provision.
Participants in centrally located Kantamanto market identified garbage piling up as their most urgent concern. In the market there are no designated refuse dump sites and the garbage cans provided by the city (at the insistence of the vendors) are not emptied. This makes for an unhealthy environment that has implications for their personal health and their businesses.
Non-Central vendors were concerned with factors that prevented customers from residing in their area. For instance, women in Abokobi listed bad roads and erratic power supply. Vendors in other areas also identified erratic power supply. Power outages can bring business to a standstill, interfere with access to goods or raw materials, and even cause conflict with clients when deadlines are not met.