Kenneth King

Kenneth King is a professor of international and comparative education and the director of the Centre of African Studies in the University of Edinburgh.

Listed in: History · African Studies · Sociology · African History · Business and Economics

Jua Kali Kenya · Change and Development in an Informal Economy, 1970–1995
By Kenneth King

Kenya was where the term “informal sector” was first used in 1971. During the 1980s the term “jua kali”—in Swahili “hot sun”—came to be used of the informal sector artisans, such as carworkers and metalworkers, who were working under the hot sun because of a lack of premises. Gradually it came to refer to anybody in self-employment. And in 1988 the government set up the Jua Kali Development Programme.

“King's Jua Kali Kenya is long overdue. Recently, there has been an explosive growth in world-wide interest in the informal sector as a panacea for the problems of poverty and unemployment. This interest is driven by crisis, great and growing need, and a conspicuous lack of viable options, yet the human realities of life in the informal sector remain largely a mystery. Many, perhaps most, of the current informal sector initiatives are not sufficiently well informed by a clear sense of what support measures are likely to work in future, much less about what has worked in the past. Many mistakes are being made, and many opportunities lost, with much avoidable human suffering.

"In response, Jua Kali Kenya offers a uniquely historical and exceptionally well informed perspective on the best understood ‘informal sector’ in Africa and perhaps world-wide. I know of no other country that can match Kenya’s efforts to understand the ‘informal’ sector, accept it as a viable component of an emerging economy, and incorporate informal sector planning into national policies and plans.

"The illustrations are an asset. The informal sector is famously hard to visualize especially as a ‘business’ even for a good many of those who now propose to co-opt it as a development mechanism. The pictures make the cast of characters come alive while providing a realistic picture of the sometimes harsh realities of informal sector enterprise.”

John P. Grierson, SKAT, Switzerland