Car repair shop in Kumasi Ghana

The return of local manufacturing: a global trend with strong roots in African cities

As the cost of the global outsourcing of manufactured goods, on both the environment and society has become clear, the future role of local manufacturing capacity is worth discussing. Various versions of local manufacturing in a high density and informal urban environment are already being practiced in Africa, offering insight into the global changes coming to manufacturing as a whole.

Understanding urban informality

What is urban informality? In spite of the ubiquitous presence of this term in the literature on cities around the world, the ways in which it is used to explain and analyze urban realities varies across different disciplinary, methodological and intellectual traditions. Associated for a long time with illegality and marginalization, informality is now increasingly […]

Slow days for Durban’s rickshaw men

Durban’s rickshaw men are a key tourist attraction at the city’s beachfront. But a rickshaw puller who spoke to Rolan Gulston says business is dead.

Hidden cullinary gems of urban Ghana: the coconut and “broke man”

A “broke man” is a healthy meal of charcoal-roasted sliced plantain and peanuts and it’s readily available to all buyers — rich and poor — on Accra’s streets.

Looking forward: Lagos 2015

With elections coming up in February 2015, it’s hard to get a sense of 2015 Lagos. But there are some hints towards what will take priority,

Urban profiles: a Wynberg street trader

Informal trade animates the streets around the bustling transport hub of Wynberg, Cape Town. A street trader who’s been working just outside the train station for 14 years shares her story.

The sand miners of Sierra Leone: working and waiting

“It is difficult as a young man here in Sierra Leone,” says 16-year-old sand miner Adraman Kamara, standing on the banks of the Sierra Leone River in a small village 20 kilometres east of Freetown. “We are told to work for our money and help our families. We are told by the government that we […]

Can I have fifty cents please?

Negotiating imagination through the material manifestations of homelessness, Shaun’s story tells of a life constrained to and yet very detached from Main Road

Minting it: Trading on Joburg’s Mint Street

One of the defining, and most enthralling, features of Mint street is that it is open for business, in some form or another, for the greater portion of any 24-hour day.

Young men struggling for work in Freetown

When I met Ibrahini Sorio Jalloh in Freetown, Sierra Leone, he was unpacking second-hand clothing from a huge hessian bag and setting up his stall in Kabiya Lots Market, a five-minute walk from the iconic Cotton Tree in the city center. “I live with fifteen people in my house. That’s why I sell ‘junks’,” says […]