Informal traders and COVID-19 in Africa: An opportunity to strengthen the social contract

  • Government policy reactions to COVID-19, and peoples’ compliance with such measures, reveal the strength of the social contract between states and their citizens.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, informal traders often have a weak social contract with the state, and this has exacerbated their vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • This brief examines the special place that informal traders occupy in the relationship between state and citizen. It finds, for instance, that governments’ COVID-19 responses affect traders in different ways, ranging from creating an enabling environment in some cases to implementing restrictive policies that worsened outcomes for traders.
  • The brief also provides recommendations on how governments can strengthen the social contract with informal traders in a post-COVID-19 world. These recommendations include regulatory reforms, adapting market-centred policies, integrating traders into social protection programmes, and increasing accountability and transparency.