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The Gig Economy: A Viable Solution For The Transformation Of Africa’s Youth

Press Release

Aug. 12, 2022, 10:30 a.m.

12 August is International Youth Day. Since the UN General Assembly first designated it in 1999, this important day has served as both an annual celebration of the role that young women and men play in driving positive change across the world and an opportunity to raise global awareness of the challenges that young people face.

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 work seekers is even bleaker. A Labour Force report by MacroTrends puts unemployment among young Ghanaians between 15 and 24 years old at 9.59%, equating to 3.1 million unemployed youth.

It's obviously an untenable situation. Not only because of the devastating effect unemployment has on many young people's physical and emotional well-being, but any country's future sustainable economic growth and development are inextricably linked to the economic contributions of its young people. This year's International Youth Day theme 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.

Our growing contribution to the economic well-being of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa has affirmed our belief in the huge potential inherent in the so-called gig economy to transform the earning landscape, especially for young people. Gig work can drive such a transformation of the earning landscape faster and more efficiently than most traditional avenues and policies can.

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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. The success of this digital platform has allowed us 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 how effective digital entrepreneurship can be in creating opportunities for Africa's youth to establish multiple revenue streams. While some arguments against the gig economy are based on misperceptions that they offer limited job security or driver protection, the opposite is true. Covid-19 proved this to be the case.

The pandemic had a massive and widespread impact on many people working in traditional employment roles. While there were undoubtedly also many digital entrepreneurs 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. This resilience of digital entrepreneurship, coupled with the flexibility, independence, and ability to write your pay cheque effectively, has resulted in the stellar growth of the gig economy over the past few years.

At Uber, we have first-hand experience of technology's potential to catalyze 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 gig economy's growth requires a regulatory environment that makes it easier for young people to leverage gig work to earn a living. And the platforms that offer such digital entrepreneurship opportunities need to go beyond just offering the technology to 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 drivers' concerns so that we can collaborate with them to maximize their earnings potential while reducing their costs. Our partnership with a flexible car ownership company, Moove, is just one example of this commitment. Through it, we have lowered one of the most significant barriers to entry for many aspiring young drivers: 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.

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 such financial security.

tag: Africa, Youth Empowerment, Uber, Employability, Youth Employment,

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Verny Joy Author

Verny loves to write poetry, fiction and quotes. Her love for writing landed her in journalism. She loves gadgets and travelling to explore new places.

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