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Paper short abstract:
The study examined how governance in Bayelsa State, Nigeria, affects informal economic strategies/coping mechanisms and how it builds or damages economic empowerment and popular engagement processes. It identified the viability of the informal sector and its link with institutional processes.
Paper long abstract:
The study examined how governance in contemporary Bayelsa State, Nigeria, affects informal economic strategies and coping mechanisms and how it, in turn, builds or damages economic empowerment targets and popular engagement processes. This was motivated by the need to ascertain if increasing informal economic networks and associations foster economic empowerment and how institutional processes shape the access of informal sector operators to resources and decision-making structures in Bayelsa State. Data was sourced via Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) from seventy-six (76) respondents drawn from the retail sub-sector, personal service sub-sector, production sub-sector, members of business associations, and institutions/agencies of government. Findings revealed that there exists among informal sector operators, a deliberate improvisation of informal associational networks that serve as a coping mechanism for growing and sustaining economic empowerment imperatives. While such initiatives were considered crucial for navigating informal choices, operators within the sector leverage on built social capital through personal ties, ethnic and religious bonds, and friendships to advance economic interest and actions. Again, rather than complement the economic gains made by an increasing associational network, institutional processes lack a bottom-up approach which accounts for the neglect and consistent crises between government officials and operators of the informal sector in Bayelsa State. The study concluded by identifying the economic viability of the informal sector. To this end, institutional processes that promote engagement of the sector in decision-making should be encouraged by the government of Bayelsa State.
Keywords: Governance. Informal Economy. Bureaucracy. Economic Empowerment. Nigeria.
Inclusive Futures for Informal Workers in Cities in the Global South I