Tope Akinwumi, Country Manager for Uber in Nigeria said there is a huge potential inherent in the gig economy to transform the earning landscape, especially for young people in Africa.
Gig work has the ability to drive such a transformation of the earning landscape faster and more efficiently than most traditional avenues and policies are able to.
In a global economic environment where formal employment is becoming increasingly difficult to access, the gig economy presents a viable and sustainable way for Africa’s youth to achieve financial security.
According to Akinwumi in a note to TechEconomy, the gig economy allows businesses or digital platforms to partner with independent contractors to deliver services that provide an income for both.
“In Uber’s case, that income is derived from technology that enables customers to request stress-free, convenient, and cost-effective rides.”
He said the success of Uber’s digital platform has allowed it to expand it beyond the actual ride-sharing capabilities, allowing drivers to also capitalize on the growth of on-demand deliveries.
“This expansion of the Uber platform capability is a prime example of just how effective digital entrepreneurship can be in creating opportunities for Africa’s youth to establish multiple revenue streams.
“While there are some arguments against the gig economy based on misperceptions that they offer limited job security or driver protection, the opposite is true. Covid-19 proved this to be the case.”
Akinwumi who noted on the sidelines of the 12 August, International Youth Day said it was an important day to serve as both an annual celebration of the role that young women and men play in driving positive change across the world, but also as an opportunity to raise global awareness of the challenges that young people face.
He said for youth in Africa, those challenges have been steadily increasing over the past two decades, driven primarily by an unacceptably high, and growing, youth unemployment rate.
Ghana’s 2021 Population and Housing Census puts the youth unemployment rate at an all-time high of 13.4%, almost triple the 5.3% recorded in 2010.
“This translates to 1.55 million out of the 11.54 million economically active population. In Nigeria, the situation for young job seekers is even bleaker.”
A March 2022 Labour Force report by the National Bureau of Statistics put unemployment among young Nigerians aged between 15 and 34 years old at 42.5%, which equates to 21.72 million unemployed youth.
“It’s obviously an untenable situation. Not only because of the devastating effect that unemployment has on the physical and emotional well-being of many young people, but any country’s future sustainable economic growth and development are inextricably linked to the economic contributions of its young people.
“That’s the reason why the theme of this year’s International Youth Day is “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages.”
“It is aimed at reminding us of the urgent imperative to stand in solidarity with all generations, including the youth, and work together to find ways of leveraging the full potential of all people to drive sustainable development.”
Gig & Pandemic
According to Akinwumi, the pandemic had a massive and widespread impact on a great amount of people working in traditional employee roles.
While there were undoubtedly also many digital entrepreneurs who were negatively impacted by the pandemic-inflicted lockdowns, many gig workers, including drivers on the Uber platform saw a steady increase in demand for their services. It’s this resilience of digital entrepreneurship, coupled with the flexibility, independence, and ability to effectively write your own pay cheque, that has resulted in the stellar growth of the gig economy over the past few years.
“At Uber, we have first-hand experience of the potential that technology has to serve as a catalyst for entrepreneurship and income generation.
“Our platform has been designed to enable and professionalize digital entrepreneurship and, more than that, to give drivers the flexibility they need.”
“Of course, the success of such digital entrepreneurship as a solution to Africa’s youth unemployment challenge also relies on effective partnerships between all stakeholders.”
The growth of the gig economy requires a regulatory environment that makes it easier for young people to leverage gig work to earn a living, he said.
According to Akinwumi, the platforms that offer such digital entrepreneurship opportunities need to go beyond just offering the technology to also support entrepreneurs in establishing and sustaining their businesses.
The Uber model prioritizes such support. We understand the economics of running a business using the Uber platform, and we listen intently to the concerns of drivers so that we can collaborate with them to maximize their earnings potential while reducing their costs.
“Our partnership with flexible car ownership company, Moove, is just one example of this commitment, and through it, we have lowered one of the most significant barriers to entry for many aspiring young drivers, namely the high cost of car ownership.
“The Moove partnership makes it easy and affordable for drivers to own good quality vehicles and start earning an income via the Uber platform in the shortest possible time.”
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