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Five Urgent Interventions to Prevent Irreversible Damage to Africa’s Informal Sector

We are now two months into Africa’s Covid-19 combat, and now is the time to reflect. Africa has managed to somewhat contain the virus, save lives and avoid a massive blow to its health systems. First, partial reopening of informal cross-border trade must be executed in a manner that avoids reverting to the status quo of overcrowded borders. Second, cross-border trade must take place in a safe environment. This requires daily sanitisation of border crossings and facilities, handwashing stations, protective wear for border authorities, and medical and quarantine officers at borders. Third, digital solutions can contain the spread of Covid-19 along trade corridors. Fourth, authorities should facilitate aggregation of small-scale traders’ goods. Fifth, it is critical to extend relief to informal traders. These traders are typically excluded from traditional safety nets due to their unregistered status.