Purpose The purpose of this paper is to evaluate critically the narrative that the informal economy in Africa has no place within the framework of economic development. Considered as a sign of “backwardness”, “traditionalism” and “underdevelopment”, the informal economy in Africa has persistently grown notwithstanding Africa’s economic destabilisation through the adoption of neo-liberal economic interventions and free-market policies. This paper argues that the informal economy cannot be marginalised at the fringes of economic development, in the construction of a holistic development pathway. Design/methodology/approach The methodological basis is discourse analysis. Findings The outcome is a call to re-think and open up the feasibility, and possibilities for, alternative economic futures beyond free-market capitalism. Originality/value This paper makes a critical consideration on one of the multiple narratives that continue to inform economic policy making in Africa, by contesting and deconstructing its basis in order to encourage a pluralistic approach and understanding
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- Free market
- Informal economy