Avenida Maputo, is a design and research project undertaken by Pedro Valério Vieira at the Cambridge Design and Research Studio.
In 2016, a massive hidden debt scandal unfolded in Mozambique, the country hid close to 2 billion EUR in debt from the IMF of which 200 million were a series of kickbacks and bribes. The crisis tarnished the country’s reputation and confidence in the government; the lack of transparency and rampant corruption warned off investors and donors alike.
How can you rebuild trust? The project envisions the establishment of an institution to support street traders in Maputo. The aim of the project is to improve on the conditions of street traders by facilitating access to resources and markets – without destitution – through the adaptation of an endogenous financial practice, xitique. The strategy is modeled after alternative methods of engaging with ‘informal’ practices in the realm of urbanism, finance, and transport, which have emerged in Maputo in recent years. The strategy is based on accepting the conditions on the ground as they are, in the present. It is a sort of realpolitik which is an alternative to the mega-projects, masterplans, one-time investments and ‘cities of the future’ that so often struggle to materialize.
The proposal envisions small-scale incremental interventions, developed through private initiative and exploited by associations of street traders across the city. The aim is to create spaces of civic engagement, stocking and finance that empower traders to grow their businesses. These spaces will simultaneously propel traders onto a platform from which they can engage with Municipal Authorities to obtain licenses and gain leverage in city politics. Programmatically the project involves a series of “banks”; a financial bank, a material or storage bank and an ideas bank or community space. The project aims to rebuild trust by offering an alternative to support the country to investors and NGOs without politically endorsing the government in the short term but promoting civic engagement between the Municipality and traders in the long run.