Africa-Press – Eritrea. Side hustles and informal employment could be the next big thing for the many unemployed youths and women in developing countries according to the World Bank.
The lender in its recent job and development report says gig economy now accounts for about 12 per cent of the global labour market, way higher than previously estimated, and holds particular promise for the two groups in developing countries.
Dubbed ‘Working Without Borders: The Promise and Peril of Online Gig Work’, the report says the demand for gig workers in low and middle-income countries has been rising faster in developing than in developed nations.
This, according to World Bank is in line with the growth of the digital economy and the spirit of innovation around the world.
“In sub-Saharan Africa, job postings for gig workers on a large digital labor platform grew by 130 per cent, while the growth rate in North America for instance, was just 14 per cent from 2016 to 2020.
The report notes that among middle-income countries, it is the lower middle-income countries that are contributing more to demand for online gig workers than the upper middle-income countries, mainly driven by the need from Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
Nevertheless, almost 60 per cent of firms surveyed in poorer countries reported increased outsourcing to gig workers whereas in wealthier countries, less than half said the same.
The lender says most young people are attracted to gig work to earn quick income, learn new skills, or have the flexibility to combine work with school or other jobs.
It also highlights that women are participating in the online gig economy to a greater extent than they are participating in the general labor market, and that six in 10 gig workers live in smaller cities, away from densely populated centres.
The report further says the gig economy is vast with a total of 545 online gig work platforms across the globe, with workers and clients located in 186 countries.
“Close to three-quarters of the platforms are regional or local rather than global, and underlining the significance of this sector for developing countries, low- and middle-income countries account for 40 per cent of traffic to gig platforms,” the report reads.
The lender indicates that online gig work could provide people in low- and middle-income countries an additional path out of poverty.
“It can help address youth unemployment and support increased labor market participation for women. It can also help address inequalities in job opportunities across regions,” said Mamta Murthi, World Bank’s vice president for human development.
She adds that for entrepreneurs, startups and small firms, it can provide flexibility in hiring talent that is critical for business growth and job creation.
However, the report also warns of potential perils.
“In low-income countries, most people work outside the purview of labor regulations and lack access to social insurance and benefits, and a considerable wage gap still exists.”