The thesis entitled “This is Africa giving form to the informal” arose from a concern with the growing levels of poverty and unemployment in South Africa and the recognition that small scale, self-generated economic activity provides an important means of survival for the very poor. It acknowledges the positive contributions that informal street trading makes to the urban environment. The dissertation draws upon a study of recently initiated projects that aimed to legitimise informal trading, by integrating it in the built environment. It is also driven by a study of the way in which traders organise, claim and define space in the urban environment. This process can be seen as the way in which traders themselves seek legitimacy. Collectively, case studies revealed a number of key elements necessary for the legitimisation of informal trade. Although the area of the proposed intervention is the Pretoria Station precinct, the study acknowledges that there are universal elements contained in informal trading. These elements establish a set of principles that define the minimal intervention necessary in order to allow opportunities for trade to as many people as possible whilst giving the traders themselves the maximum possible room to manoeuvre. In essence, the approach does not argue for the formalisation or ‘neatening’ of informal activity, but aims to give form to activities frequently regarded as illegal, and to provide street market spaces that can function as essential forms of urban infrastructure (Dewar 1990:xi).
Mini Dissertation (MInt(Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2010.