Africa’s Gig Opportunity
By introducing portable benefits for gig workers, African governments and digital platforms can help to power the continent’s future growth. Otherwise, these platforms will lose top talent, countries will miss out on potential tax revenue, and Africa will fail to reap the full benefits of the digital revolution.
TORONTO – The growth of digital platforms in Africa could offer new opportunities to bridge the current gap between often-insecure informal work and formal employment. Portable benefits, which move with a freelance worker from gig to gig, could drive this transition.
There are already about 300 active digital platforms in Africa, employing close to five million workers. They include e-commerce company Jumia, which was established in Nigeria and now operates in 14 countries on the continent.
The rise of such platforms has intensified the debate about the demise of the traditional employment contract and the persistence of widespread informal employment in Africa. This shift increases the risk of lower wages and lower-quality work. It also restricts workers’ access to critical benefits, including sick leave, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and employer-funded retirement savings plans.