TECHNOLOGY

Digital use can power gig economy growth in East Africa - report

Research shows that the gig economy is nascent and continues to grow

In Summary
  • Titled ‘The Gig Economy in East Africa: A Gateway to the Financial Mainstream’, the report explores how digital inclusion is a prime enabler of the gig economy.
  • Research estimates in 2019 put the total size of the online gig economy in Kenya at $109million(Sh11.2billion), employing 36,573.
BUSY: Internet surfers at a cyber cafe in Nairobi.Photo/Karuga Wa Njuguna
BUSY: Internet surfers at a cyber cafe in Nairobi.Photo/Karuga Wa Njuguna

The gig economy which supports millions of people in East Africa can unlock more openings if it fully exploits the us of digital, according to a report by Mastercard.

Titled ‘The Gig Economy in East Africa: A Gateway to the Financial Mainstream’, the report explores how digital inclusion is a prime enabler of the gig economy.

According to the report, this is possible through connected devices that power the digital economy, and access to capital and markets.

 

Research shows that the gig economy is nascent and continues to grow, with almost two-thirds (60 per cent) of gig workers joining the gig economy between 2017 and 2019.

However, like much of the informal sector, uncertainty more so continuity of income being a major challenge.

More than half (55 per cent) said that not knowing when the next gig is contributes to instability.

Research estimates in 2019 put the total size of the online gig economy in Kenya at $109million (Sh11.2billion), employing 36,573, while the offline gig economy comprises 5.1 million workers, and accounts for $19.6 billion (Sh2.1trillion).

Despite this, online gig economy work is preferred; Mastercard’s report found that almost 60 per cent would prefer online gigs to offline.

“Gig work is present everywhere in East Africa, but now, with the growth of digital technologies and connected devices, there is a real opportunity to help gig workers quickly connect to consumers to meet their demands for services,” said Jorn Lambert, Chief Digital Officer, Mastercard.

 

Some of the most common types of gig work in East Africa are in artisanal and general services, which includes welders, electricians, carpenters, and domestic work.