Street Hawking and Urban Space Regulation: The Case of Street Hawkers in Accra, Ghana

Research output: ThesisThesis fully external


Street hawking/vending is an important activity in the informal sector which serves as a source of livelihood to many people in most developing countries across the world. The activities of hawkers mostly in urban centres as they try to eke out a living is always not only beset with challenges but has often raised a lot of concerns from governments, city authorities and other actors. This situation as highlighted is not different from what pertains in Accra-Ghana. Street hawking/vending has been designated as illegal. The activities of hawkers, the problems and challenges that emerge have necessitated a decongestion and relocation of the hawkers to a
constructed market; the first of its kind in the country. However, the exercise undertaken by the city authorities has also brought with it challenges and problems and hence implications for all the actors involved.

This study sought to examine in the face of urban space regulation, the socio-economic impact of the relocation of street hawkers to the Odawna Pedestrian Market at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle (avenue) in Accra. Specifically, the study tried to unveil: (i) the underlying reasons behind the policies resulting in the relocation of the hawkers by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA); (ii) find out the livelihood impacts of the relocation exercise on the hawkers; (iii) to seek the views of both the AMA authorities, the hawkers and the public on the relocation of the street hawkers. Further, attempts have been made to find out why people hawk or sell on the streets and pavements of the city; who these people are (their profiles) and why the hawkers do not want to relocate to the newly constructed Odawna pedestrian market.

The livelihoods framework, structuration theory and place concept are the main theories that have been used in tandem with published data and information to analyse the qualitative data gathered. The qualitative method employed to gather the data consisted of participant and covert observation as well as in-depth interviews of a total of 28 informants of which 23 of them were primary informants and 5 being key informants. Snowball sampling was the main sampling design used for the interviews.

The study has revealed that the underlying reasons why people sell on streets and
pavements is mainly as a result of unemployment due to limited job opportunities and poverty. It is highlighted that in spite of the fact that many people of varying ages and sex are engaged in hawking, the youth are the most dominant. In the light of challenges, it is shown in this study that these challenges have informed the relocation exercise embarked by the AMA which has in turn affected the hawkers socio-economically and psychologically.

In reference to the foregoing, the study concludes that even though the AMA has
succeeded in moving a significant number of the hawkers to the constructed market, its main goal of totally getting rid of hawkers from the streets and pavements has been unsuccessful. It is further brought to light that, the activity which is a livelihood to many and present in all the major cities of Africa and in neighbouring West African countries is deeply ingrained in the psyche of the people. In this regard, there is the need to adopt more pragmatic measures and strategies to address the situation.

Against this background, several recommendations have been made by the study to help tackle the hawking activity. It is noted however that the sample interviewed does not represent the broad views of the many hawkers in the country and the actors involved in the activity. In cognizance of this, areas have been identified for further research so as to give more insights into the dynamics of street hawking in the country.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationMaster of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Norwegian Univ Sci & Technol, Norwegian University of Science & Technology
  • Jorgensen, Stig, Supervisor, External person
Award date5-Jul-2011
Place of PublicationTrondheim
Publication statusPublished - 3-May-2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Street Hawkers
  • Vendors
  • livelihood strategy
  • Accra
  • Urban Regulation

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