In Africa, the informal sector is often in fact quite well organised and even has a major international dimension: informal cross-border trade (ICBT) often swamps official trade. Kinship networks frequently play a major role in domestic economies and in ICBT across Africa, both substituting for and undermining official institutions. In Africa, allegiance to traditional sources of authority is often far more binding than to the modern state. In this chapter, we review the role of kinship groups in African economies, with particular focus on ICBT. The chapter documents the pervasiveness of these phenomena and illustrates them in more detail with case studies of several groups, such as the Mourides in Senegal–Gambia, the Yoruba in Nigeria–Benin, the Hausa across the Sahel, and the Bamiléké in Cameroon.
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