Document Type



Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


This article focuses on periods of economic crisis and structural adjustments in Tanzania, when the informal sector changed both quantitatively and qualitatively. It highlights that the traditional view that the informal sector accommodated the unemployed, the poor, the unskilled, as well as utilizing family labour and local resources, was questionable in most of the sub-Saharan countries which were experiencing a severe economic crisis and have adopted structural adjustment policies (SAPs). The author suggests that policy programs aimed at promoting the informal sector should acknowledge the fact that the crisis, as well as SAPs, have forced not only the poor, but also middle and upper income persons and rich entrepreneurs, to participate in this sector. Policies should reexamine the dominant forms of social relations in this sector in order to determine who actually needs assistance and how best to help them. Promoting this sector blindly might enhance the processes of social and economic inequality, exploitation, oppression, and marginalization which are currently rampant in the informal sector.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


Canadian Journal of African Studies