Country Listing

Zaire Table of Contents


The Informal Sector



Women and children, Équateur Region

This category has grown substantially in the years since independence, particularly in the cities. It consists of people who lack regular wage employment and who engage in a wide variety of economic activities. Typical occupations include tailoring, shoe repairs, housing construction, taxi and bus services, soft-drink vending, masonry work, petty retailing, artisanal crafts, prostitution, and petty criminality. In border cities, the latter category includes smugglers, who have sometimes grown wealthy from their illicit activity. Participation may be transitional or permanent. School leavers have been typical transitional members as they may engage in such activities on a part-time subsistence basis while searching for permanent employment. Older persons, women, and individuals lacking educational qualifications for wage employment have tended to remain in this sector permanently. Although poverty grips most people in this sector, individuals have occasionally prospered. More importantly, the size, ingenuity, and redistributive capacity of this group have served as buffers to individual hardship during periods of economic calamity.

Data as of December 1993