Policy Brief No 1 of 2017: Informal Economy and Cross-Border Trade between South Africa and Zimbabwe (17 Jan 2017)

The socio-economic significance of the informal sector, and Informal Cross-Border Trade (ICBT) in particular, is now widely acknowledged. Globally, the ILO estimated 50-75% of non-agricultural labour force to be in the informal sector.1 WIEGO’s estimates for Southern Africa put sub-region at 66%, with massive variations across countries, for example South African 33%, Namibia 44%, and Zimbabwe 52%.2 The Zimbabwe Statistics (ZIMSTATS) estimates are much higher at 94.5%, for ages 15 years and above.3 The sector is overwhelmingly dominated by women. An equally important segment of the informal sector is the ICBT, which is estimated to constitute 40% of total Southern Africa regional trade. While, global, regional, and national policy developments have started to move (albeit belatedly) with the growing significance of informality4, regional trade policy still lags behind with respect to ICBT.
ICBT between South Africa and Zimbabwe is very significant, with the Beitbridge Border being the busiest in the region. According to the Southern African Migration Program (SAMPS), Zimbabwe contributes 29% of all ICBT traders in South Africa. It is worth noting that one of the resolutions of the 2016  Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-National Commission was to support free movement of people between the two countries and to establish a one-stop-border post.
In order contribute towards the necessary regional policy shifts, the Southern Africa Liaison Office, SALO, hosted a multi-stakeholder dialogue on Informal Cross-Border Trade, focusing on Zimbabwe and South Africa. The Honourable Minister of Small Business Development, Ambassador Lindiwe Zulu, was the keynote speaker and His Excellency, Ambassador of Zimbabwe to the Republic of South Africa, Mr Isaac Moyo, also gave input. This is envisaged to be the beginning of a series of dialogues focusing on ICBT in Southern Africa, hosted in collaboration with the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) and South Africa’s Department of Small Business and Development. This policy brief is based on outcomes from the dialogue, complemented by desk research. It sums up key points from the dialogue and ends with recommendations.
Read full Policy Brief here: Policy Brief No 1 of 2017