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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development planning and the informal sector : a case study of the automobile-repair shops in four cities of tropical Africa Jourdain, Robert M.,


Most African governments are today increasingly inclined to argue that their development planning process would be incomplete and perhaps retarded unless the people and activities of the informal sector are included into both the plan and the process. Between 1977 and 1979, the International Labour Organization (ILO) carried-out a series of informal sector censuses and sample surveys in the primate cities of five countries of Francophone Africa. This thesis is based upon selected data collected in four cities, namely Nouakchott (Mauritania), Bamako (Mali), Lome (Togo) and Yaounde (Cameroon). The thesis is introduced by briefly describing the four countries' economies , summarizing the debate on the informal sector concept and the ILO survey project objectives and methodology. The census results are then presented and the focus is put on a segment of these activities, the "modern" informal sector which was sample surveyed. The "automobile-repair shops", study population of this thesis is isolated. A second chapter draws a statistical profile of the entrepreneurs and their undertakings in the four cities. This description, as a first objective, is compared against the general average of the overall modern informal sector population. This collective portrait includes data on the identity, social origins, education, training and working life of the entrepreneurs. A profile of their undertakings is given by statistics on labour force, the salaries, the net income etc. In a following chapter, the second objective of this thesis is to assess the efficiency of the national development planning process in these countries. Particular attention is devoted to the attitudes of these governments towards the informal sector. It is concluded that both the plan and the process, as presently operating in these countries, are not the best tools to use, should assistance to the informal sector be given. The fourth chapter deals with the objective of examining the automobile-repair shop entrepreneur's response to potential Governmental assistance. A discriminant analysis is performed to investigate how "undifferentiated" that response could be. The results show that, even for a narrow sub-population of the modern informal sector, the entrepreneurs do not form an homogeneous mass of people. They are very unequally committed to the perspectives of governmental assistance. The policy implications of the preceeding conclusions are threefold: • Scarce government resources could be more usefully allocated to other sectors of the economy. • Should assistance to the informal sector be given, we would have clearly to distinguish between heterogeneous sub-populations. • Today's prospects for a successful assistance are not promissing. It is difficult for these governments to develop meaningful policies which would effectively assist the informal sector.

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