Negotiating the control over transportation at the urban margins: dynamics in governance coproduction in informal mobility in Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire) and Douala (Cameroon)

The University of Dschang-Cameroon, Cameroon

EP-2020-MAC-05, PhD Vivien Meli Meli, PhD, University of Dschang-Cameroon


  • Kabran Estelle, Felix Houphouët-Boigny University-Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire /Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire (CSRS), Côte d’Ivoire
  • Fokou Gilbert, Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire (CSRS), Cote d’Ivoire
  • Lemouogue Josephine, University of Dschang-Cameroon, Cameroon
  • Tanougong Armand, University of Dschang-Cameroon, Cameroon


This study builds on the concept of governance coproduction to analyse the contribution of actors of informal urban transport evolving at the “margins” to a creative and developmental city in Abidjan (Ivory-Coast) and Douala (Cameroon). This entails examining the participative transformation that consists to bringing together multiple forms of expertise and knowledge to manage complex policy issues. The concept of “margins” is not only spatial but also social and symbolic notion, including territories, activities, believes and logic of action developed by ‘uninvited’ informal actors. The informal transport sector has been increasingly documented in recent years. This emerging body of knowledge contributes to advance understanding of harsh conditions of labour and everyday challenges facing Africa’s informal transport operators and their coping strategies. Those actors are regularly portrayed as artisans of urban anarchy and chaos.

Our approach stands beyond the usual tendency to portray the informal urban transport sector as an ungoverned and chaotic system. Relying on innovative methodologies in transport geography and sociology, such as GIS-based mapping, GPS-based travel surveys, qualitative and quantitative surveys and stakeholder workshops, this contribution will focus on dynamics from the margins to urban transport governance. This builds on the assumption that logic and practices of actors are often strategies from below or an expression of their innovation and creativity to contribute to transport governance, to improve the mobility offer in the city. This comparative study in two francophone cities of West and Central Africa will aim to: 1) mapping peripheral activities hotspots and actors of the urban transport; 2) assessing urban transport governance from the margins; 3) defining determinants for an inclusive engagement of urban transport stakeholders in transformative interactions for governance coproduction. We expect from the project that peripheral actors will be better structured and increasingly involved in decision making on informal urban transport.