The city has set a closing date for the registration of informal businesses with the Addis Abeba Trade Bureau as thousands are left unregistered.
Street vendors have until November 10, 2018, to have their businesses legally registered, a deadline announced in the past week.
The Bureau grants vendors stalls in 129 designated marketplaces around the city through a raffle system. To date, 24,778 people have registered, 16,186 have been issued identification cards, and close to 5,000 have opened their businesses in assigned stalls.
The number of street vendors in the city fluctuates, but it is estimated that there are around 40,000 people trading in the parallel market, according to Dagnachewu Lure, director of Informal Trade Formalisation at the Bureau.
The registration has come following an enactment of a directive last November by the City Administration that provided the legal framework for informal traders to get mainstream recognition.
As a requirement for registration, street vendors have to present identification cards from a Qebele, and their capital should not exceed 10,000 Br. A registration fee of 70 Br is also mandatory. Upon registration, the vendors receive a taxpayer identification number and a badge to wear at all times while working in the marketplaces. The stalls that the vendors are to work from are being distributed by a raffle system and will be rotated periodically.
To implement the registration and legalisation of the informal traders, the Trade Bureau worked with the Land Development & Management Bureau, Transport Traffic Management Agency, Small & Micro Enterprises Agency, Food & Drug Administration Authority and the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority.
“We hope all of the city’s street vendors will be registered within the deadline,” said Dagnachew. “Only if we notice a significant spike in the number of informal traders coming forward to register will we conduct another round of registration.”
The Bureau’s main challenge in registering the street vendors was accommodating those that do not have identification cards to prove their residency in the city. The Bureau is amenable to work with them to prove that they are residents of the city.
Street vendors, such as 20-year old Zelalem Belachewu, who sells women’s outfits welcomes the whole initiative.
“We are always on the lookout for code enforcers, meaning that we never get to settle in a single area,” Zelalem said, vowing to get registered before the deadline is up. “Constantly changing locations is bad for business.”
Earning an average of 100 Br a day in profit, he does not mind paying taxes in return for a legally ecognised location to conduct his trade.
“Of course, some of the stalls in the marketplaces will not be visited with as many potential customers as the roadsides that we are used to. If I get one of those, however, it will be like the streets for me,” he said.
The informal sector was estimated to account for over 38pc of the country’s total gross domestic product (GDP), which is slightly higher than the Sub-Saharan average, the 2013 figure of the International Monetary Fund. It is also estimated that close to 32pc of the nation’s labour force are engaged in that sector.
Ali Yibre, a lecturer and an economist at Bahir Dar University with 10 years of experience, finds the initiative by the Bureau to have a lasting significance.
Beside their current contribution to the economy, future development and growth of street vendors can be incorporated into the system, according to Ali. But he believes that registration should remain open for newcomers.
“There will always be entries for those that want to exist legally,” he said. “It must be left open-ended or else the system won’t serve to the degree that it is intended to.”
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