Leaning on his bicycle in the outskirts of Lilongwe, Malawi, Bryan Banda is not just hanging around. He is waiting for the next passenger for his kabaza, the local name for a bicycle taxi:
“I make 20 trips a day, which gives me an income of about 3-4,000 kwacha (roughly USD 4-5),” he explains.
Foot on the ladder
For the past year, 19-year-old Banda has made his living driving passengers around the city on the cushy seat on the rear rack of his bicycle, a job he says that he enjoys. In a country with few opportunities for employment, his story is not unique.
“Bicycles give work, they give relatively inexpensive mobility, and they give dignity and a real sense of being people of worth in a community,” says Professor Gordon Pirie of the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
“For a relatively small capital outlay, bicycle owners could really begin to get their feet on the bottom of the ladder of service delivery and running small businesses,“ Pirie adds.
1,000 calls from Asia
Maersk Line and Safmarine vessels call at African ports from Asia more than 1,000 times annually and the increasing volumes of finished goods, anything from rice and palm oil to electronics and motorcycles, are reflected in the hard numbers: from 187,000 containers (forty-foot equivalent) in 2005 to 605,000 in 2014, –corresponding to a whopping 224% increase over a decade.