Book review: Kasinomics by GG Alcock


Kasinomics is a book authored by GG Alcock, which explores the informal economy of the townships in South Africa. Alcock is a social entrepreneur, and he has lived in the townships for over two decades, which makes him well-versed with the dynamics of the informal economy. In this book, Alcock offers insights into how the township economy operates, how people make a living, and how they have adapted to the difficult conditions of the townships. This paper will review the book by discussing its key topics of discussion, the lessons that can be learned from it, and concluding on its overall value.

Key topics of discussions

One of the main topics of discussion in Kasinomics is the informal economy of the townships. Alcock argues that the informal economy is a significant contributor to the country’s economy and that it plays a crucial role in the survival of township residents. He shows that the township economy is built on networks of trust and social connections, which are essential for people to find employment, start businesses, and survive in the harsh economic conditions of the townships.

Another topic of discussion in the book is the role of government in the township economy. Alcock argues that the government has largely ignored the informal economy, which has resulted in the growth of illegal and informal activities. He shows that the government needs to recognize the importance of the informal economy and create policies that support its growth and development.

Alcock also explores the impact of technology on the township economy. He argues that technology has created new opportunities for township residents, such as online marketplaces and digital payment systems. However, he also shows that technology has the potential to widen the gap between the haves and have-nots, as those without access to technology may be left behind.

In the words of the author:

eKasi, the lokasie, the South African township, once an apartheid ghetto, is today an amazingly transformed place. This township today is an eclectic mix of mansions, shacks, spaza shops, rocking taverns, hawkers, taxis and hot wheels. In this kasi there are vibrant businesses, energetic people, a tightly networked social community and abundant hope.

That is not to say there isn’t extreme poverty, suffering and dissatisfaction, particularly on the peripheries in the huge shack settlements, but to paint the place as a slum is a massive mistake.
Kasinomics attempts to cast a light on the invisible matrix at the heart of South Africa’s informal economies and the people who live in them. Living and doing business in African marketplaces requires an ethos uniquely suited to the informal, to the invisible, to the intangible.

Kasinomics will take you down those rural pathways, weave between claustrophobic mazes of shacks, browse a muti market, visit a spirit returning ceremony and save money with gogo in a stokvel, among many more people and places.

After almost twenty years of focusing on marketing to the informal sector, GG Alcock, CEO of specialist marketing company Minanawe, showcases a number of groundbreaking and very successful case studies in this invisible informal world. His vivid anecdotes and life experiences and how they link to understanding and inspiration for business ideas will make you gasp, laugh and shake your head in wonder.


In conclusion, Kasinomics is an insightful book that offers a unique perspective on the informal economy of the townships in South Africa. GG Alcock’s extensive experience and knowledge of the township economy make this book valuable.


Cover Image: GG Alcock



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