This collage of images reveals the problems that have arisen as a result of extremely rapid urbanization on the African continent. In Africa, this urbanization usually comes without accompanying industrialization as is traditional in the West. Rural populations in Africa frequently move to the cities if their farms fail. However, there are not many jobs in the cities because of the lack of industrialization. Thus, the newly urban citizens stay in poverty and must utilize informal housing, as their “jobs” in the informal economy cannot provide anything else. As this migration happens en masse, the urban population explodes, as does the need for services, while the tax base remains stagnant. Thus, the city cannot provide services for its newly enlarged population. The most prominent problems that have arisen out of this migration are environmental (especially water pollution due to the lack of a functioning sewer system), social (often no schools, high crime rates, gangs), and infrastructural (traffic problems due to lack of sufficient roads, no/illegal electricity).
In a few of these pictures, we can see the prevalence of informal housing in African urban slums. This housing situation is often dangerous for the people who live there, as there are usually no services provided by the city, or occasionally extremely limited services. The picture on the bottom left illustrates this lack of services: a woman (probably in North Africa given the Arabic script on the wall) must do her washing in buckets in the middle of a street; the wastewater has nowhere to drain. These houses are unregulated by any building codes and can be very dangerous to live in. They are frequently constructed with cinder blocks, tarps, and corrugated metal and are meant to be temporary. The vast amount of informal housing that makes up slums in Africa is always located on land with little or no value to anyone else who could afford a better situation. The slums can be found on steep hills, landfills, near industrial areas, in marshes, etc. For example, the slum in the bottom right picture is located in a marshy area near a lagoon or river.
The people who live in these slums in Africa form part of the informal economy; the slow pace of industrialization does not provide enough steady, well-paying jobs. These people take small, odd, insecure jobs and must provide for their family with the meager income they earn. Additionally, they usually only consume from the informal economy because it is too expensive for them to buy goods in the traditional economy. For example, a person in the slums might not be able to afford a whole pack of cigarettes from the convenience store. However, they can afford cigarettes sold individually by someone on the corner. The person selling the cigarettes earns enough each day to buy another pack the next day and sell more. Certain sectors of the informal economy are more important than others, like retailing, salvage, food, and transportation. Hopefully someday the cities will industrialize at a quicker pace and be able to provide a better living for their citizens.