Space, place and belonging: informal trading in and around Congolenses market, Luanda, Angola

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The dissertation explores the interplay between government, informal street traders and the public in and around the Congolenses marketplace in Luanda, Angola. The nation was ravaged by 27 years of civil war until 2002. During this time, most of the city made use of extensive systems of informal provisioning to survive. Since the end of the war, the government has undertaken a high degree of spatial and social reordering with wide ranging consequences for those who inhabit the city, especially within the informal economy. Most previous research focusing on the informal economy, or government policy in Luanda has taken sectoral and city wide approaches. As such, the opportunity to explore the effects and manifestations of policy on informality in a site specific context presents itself. The Congolenses market is a key point in the city where interplay between informality, the public and government has taken place. This dissertation examines the various spatial constituents of Congolenses, reviews its situation within the context of greater Luanda, and discusses the role which informal trade has and continues to play in the city. Furthermore, in investigating the relationship between informal traders and the government's stance towards them, perspectives were drawn from three focal areas: The lived realities of traders in the area through in depth interviews, the perceptions of and ways in which the area is used by pedestrians through surveys, and how the Angolan government has interacted with them through media scans, observations and key literatures. It was found that planning mechanisms, including spatial, legal, and policy should be employed as critical interventions for the creation of an inclusive space to the advantage of all users of the market. Finally, a spatial concept was produced, suggesting improved land uses, and physical infrastructural interventions in the area and provides the view that a change in the current perspective of the Angolan government would be of benefit to informal traders and the Angolan economy.

Includes bibliographical references