In the midst of a fast-paced transformation in Africa's job market that's quickly leading to an employment gap, all hands are on deck and the issue is a heated one. Further exacerbated by a quickly rising youth population, for whom the lack of formal sector jobs means that most turn to informal sector jobs such as domestic work, casual labor, or smallholder farming, people are in need of a solution.
As a technology platform for informal sector workers in Kenya, Lynk has harnessed the growth potential of this trend to create one of the largest gig-work platforms (an online resource to match people’s skills with needed work) on the continent. Innovative efforts like Lynk's are just the tip of the iceberg. In Africa, gig platforms have the potential to provide a source of consistent work, and, with centralized governance and support, a pathway to reduce informality and boost productivity by leapfrogging informal economies.
As the name suggests, the informal economy is marred by uncertainty, a lack of social protections, and massive inefficiencies around productivity and income growth. In Kenya, for example, where hundreds of thousands of people work in carpentry and joinery, most workers only have access to training in manual hand tools. Rather than investing to make the sector competitive, the government’s most notable interventions in the past year have been to cripple the sector with a ban on logging and a substantial tax on alternative materials. In spite of their growing importance as an engine of employment, most informal activities are still seen as an adversary by national governments.
The potential for gig platforms to provide a source of consistent work and centralized governance and support is even more exciting in Africa where platforms can leapfrog informal economies.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, technology platforms that operate as nontraditional “employers” are rapidly growing.
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