Monday, August 30, 2010

African markets in Spain

African manteros (literally blanket people, but with the connotation of curbside hawkers) dominate many of the vibrant street markets in Spain, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports.

Some municipalities have tried to liberalize hawking laws, but apparently backed down due to opposition from retailers and tourist agencies.

'We do not steal or sell drugs,' a mantero named Abdou told the news agency. 'Whom do we harm?'

Police are due to start raids again in September.

hawking on Moscow's trains

Hawkers offer a bewildering variety of goods on the trains from Moscow's Yaroslavsky Station to the monastery at Sergiev Posad. The business, an analyst tells The Canadian Press, is worth millions of dollars a year.

making do

Making Do, a new book by Steve Daniels, highlights the power of the Jua Kali (hot sun) industries in Kenya. Here's an excerpt, from The Atlantic.

The book debuted at Maker Faire Africa 2010 in Nairobi, a festival of informal know-how curated by my esteemed friend and colleague and all-around good guy Emeka Okafor.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Arresting teenagers for hawking

Authorities in Calabar, the capital of Nigeria's Cross River State, recently arrested 100 young street hawkers for selling legal goods in unauthorized places, Next newspaper reports.

The products they were selling: food items such as eggs, plantain chips, peanuts, potatoes, sachets of water, vegetables, garri (toasted, ground cassava), beverages, plus desirable consumer goods like mobile phone recharge cards and clothing.

Authorities contended, without offering any evidence, that some of those arrested were violent criminals.

But a parent of one of the kids arrested insisted that they were just trying to help their families make some money in a traditionally acceptable way. "How can a government stop street hawking when our tradition encourages it?"

the cost of electricity during Ramadan

Street hawkers in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, are apparently making under-the-table deals for illegal connections to public electrical lines, bdnews24 reports. The hawkers are apparently using the juice so they can run small light bulbs in order to sell their wares at night.

Authorities told bdnews24 that the number of street hawkers rises during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. The amount of power pilfered by the city's estimated 100,000 hawkers could amount to 10MW per day--in a city that is stressed for adequate power.

One hawker confirmed that he paid an unauthorized 'lineman' 1,000 taka ($14 US) for the hookup and 50 per day (or about 75 cents) for the power. Another said he paid twice as much.

According to the Dhaka Electric Supply Company, legal electricity for commercial use can be had for a flat rate of 5.58 taka (about 8 cents) per unit of use. So the hawkers are likely being ripped off, perhaps by as much as 800 percent.

The obvious solution: instead of hunting down the law-breaking hawkers, crack down on the fake utility workers and provide the hawkers with safe, legal hookups where they will pay the official rate.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

up with street vendors

An essayist in The Hindu, perhaps India's most prestigious English-language paper, blasts the disingenuous arguments used to demonize hawkers and roadside merchants.

Money quote: "If lakhs [tens of thousands] of jobless people decide to be masters and mistresses of their own fate, should we call them a nuisance or salute their spirit of enterprise? The answer, I think, is evident."