We are grateful to all those that gave their precious time to participate in the survey that led to this report.
One of the major challenges that negates economic development in Nigeria is the lack of reliable data, and of more concern, the lack of political will needed to mainstream street hawking to the formal economy or to provide alternative economic solutions to the vendors. Information about the impacts of street hawking to national development is vital as it enables government to make decisive and informed decision towards mainstreaming street hawking to the national economy.
In recognition of the unharnessed economic contributions and opportunities that can be accrued by street hawking – a segment of the informal economy – to sustainable development in Nigeria, CSR-in-Action Advocacy – a sustainability and governance focused social enterprise for collective recent article on “Mainstreaming Street Hawking in a Formal Economy: An Inclusive Approach to Development”.
Our main objectives for conducting this survey were to:
- provide raw information that can enable government to make decisive and informed decision towards mainstreaming street hawking to the national economy.
- gauge the perceptions of Nigerians towards street hawking.
Street hawking has been an economic lifeline for many people at the bottom of the economic pyramid in developing countries, prevalent within urban and suburban contexts. It has allowed poor, mostly uneducated, unskilled people, to eke out a living with meager or no capital investment and without the expense of maintaining business space, formal registration or documentation.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hawker as one (whether stationary or mobile) who offers goods for sale, usually in small quantity, by calling out in the street.
This growing segment of the vulnerable poor population is part of the informal sector that made up 58.82% of Nigeria’s 2015 (Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), yet its potential for growth of the nation’s growth has been oft neglected or criminalised; with states enacting laws forbidding hawking.
In all fairness, one can understand the menace associated with street hawking, the matter of potential safety and other traffic hazards for the hawkers and road users, and other perceived challenges of harnessing the economic benefits, blindly onlookers from seeing them as potential labour force that could contribute to government’s revenue generation. However, with all of the effort being made to gather national and subnational human index data, it is more than tenable that this powerful market force can be a catalyst for improving GDP, standardisation of goods and equitable labour practices.
Summary of Findings
Although 66.7% of respondents agree that it is not economical to make purchases from street hawkers, 61.8% recommended that street hawking should be legalized and 66.7% agree that street hawkers should be taxed by the government.
Furthermore, 100% of the respondents agree that registration and/or licensing of street hawkers will be good for the economy.
Data Collection Method: Primary data was collected exclusively for the purpose of this survey, to ensure a high degree of accuracy and objectivity in comparing perceptions of Nigerians towards 12 different questions.
Instrument for Data Collection: Online survey link was sent to about 17,000 people in our email newsletter database, and the poll lasted for a period of 3 weeks before the link was closed.
66.7% percent of respondents disagree that it is economical to make purchases from street hawkers, while 33.3% accepted that making purchases from street hawkers are economical. This could imply that purchases are mostly made through street hawkers for convenience, and other factors that motivate people to do so.
100% of the respondents agree that street hawking is part of Nigeria’s culture. This is a cogent reason for the government to mainstream the activities of street hawkers to the formal economy, as any ban on it will be repugnant to the natural way of life of people.
61.7% of the respondents suggest that street hawking be legalised in Nigeria, as opposed to 38% who suggested that it should not be legalised. If this represents the majority view, it may imply that the people’s wishes be considered by the government.
While the majority suggest that street hawkers be taxed by the government, only 33.3% suggest otherwise. Such a result is remarkable and shows the willingness of Nigerians to pay their taxes should their businesses be transmitted into a formal sector where they can contribute directly to the national economy.
Harnessing the prospects available in street hawking is tantamount to addressing a diverse number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as recommended by the United Nations and adopted by leading nations, which are critical to Nigeria’s economy; including: No Poverty (SDG 1), Zero Hunger (SDG 2), Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10) and Climate Action (SDG 13).
A remarkable result in this survey is the fact that 66.7% of the respondents suggest that street hawkers be taxed by the government and over 60% agree that street hawking be legalized.
Another interesting finding in the survey’s admittance that this ‘epidemic’ is cultural. As Nigeria moves away from a resource-based economy and tries to create more employment within the informal economy, it may be beneficial to tap into an opportunity that is already a way of life of the people.
According to Yip Po-Lam, convener of a grassroots concern group for hawkers in Hong Kong, “Supermarkets…will soon become the only choice [for shoppers]. If you see the issue from the point of view of poverty alleviation, culture and tourism or the local economy, then you should grow [the practice of hawking].”