Africa has the best proportion of casual sector employees anyplace on this planet. They account for greater than 85% of the continent’s employees. This compares with 68.2% in Asia and the Pacific, 68.6% within the Arab States, 40.0% within the Americas and 25.1% in Europe and Central Asia.
It’s simpler to work within the casual sector as a result of no tutorial certificates or formal coaching is required. An important factor is the readiness and skill to work.
The casual sector consists of all companies that don’t fall below authorities regulation. These embody all types of petty buying and selling, artisan work, and gross sales and provide of products. Additionally they embody various companies akin to hairdressing, barbers, mechanics, painters, handyman, artisans, home companies, and different work endeavours that folks have interaction in for cash. This definition excludes people who find themselves concerned in crime.
However these companies face quite a few challenges which hinder their progress. Primarily based on analysis in South Africa, these embody: lack of entry to finance; poor entry to expertise coaching and expertise; weak casual enterprise associations and their lack of ‘voice’; issues within the authorized and regulatory surroundings and problems with intergovernmental coordination; lack of organisation; poor high quality of service and lack of service requirements. Additionally they lack enterprise documentation, making it troublesome for governments to tax them.
The identical challenges are related to the casual sector of most African international locations.
There have been a variety of data, communication and expertise (ICT)-based initiatives in South Africa concentrating on small, micro and medium-sized enterprises.
However they’ve all bypassed the casual sector.
The Cape Peninsula College of Expertise sought to shut this hole by initiating a analysis challenge on Expertise Help for the Casual Sector of South Africa. The objective was to sort out a few of the challenges of the casual sector via ICT in a manner that was helpful to all stakeholders.
The challenge goals to offer a web-based platform (portal) that makes use of synthetic intelligence and cloud expertise to assist enterprise transactions within the casual sector. To date, the primary model of the platform (referred to as Uvuyo) has been created. It is going to allow casual enterprise homeowners to register on the portal totally free, and place their companies to be seen by prospects.
We’ll go additional within the second part of the challenge to make sure that interactions between prospects and repair suppliers on the portal may be completed in native South African languages utilizing textual content or voice messages.
On-line platforms which are particularly designed to assist native folks within the casual sector of Africa on this manner aren’t but widespread.
In a paper printed in 2018 I set out how purpose-built portals might assist casual companies meet a few of their primary wants. I proposed the creation of a web-based platform that may very well be accessed through cell phone, net, or voice enter. I argued that the platform would meet some well-known challenges akin to poor service high quality and an absence of visibility. And that authorities companies may benefit from information generated from the portal to make strategic plans on methods to develop the casual sector higher.
Many new trendy companies are primarily based on the concept of a sharing economic system the place a expertise platform facilitates on-demand companies between prospects in want of companies and suppliers of those companies. Many worldwide corporations which are doing nicely, akin to Uber, Bolt and Taskrabbit.com, use this strategy.
We consider the identical concept can be utilized to advertise casual sector companies.
What’s in place, and what’s lacking
Africa already has an inexpensive basis for the in depth use of expertise. Take the widespread use of cellphones. A current report confirmed that 91% of adults in South Africa personal a cell phone; 51% of adults have a smartphone and 40% have a primary telephone.
Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania even have comparatively excessive cell penetration with over 30% of the grownup inhabitants having a smartphone.
Which means an off-the-cuff service supplier can have interaction in enterprise transactions with prospects over the telephone through SMS or social media.
As we speak lots of people publish details about their enterprise on social media to realize the eye of shoppers. Smartphones allow service suppliers to hyperlink immediately with prospects.
The continent has a variety of companies that function this manner. Notable examples embody Kenya’s lynk.co.ke; Nigeria’s kobo360.com, anyservice.ng and fixam.com.ng; and South Africa’s Sweepsouth.com, domestly and kandua.com.
They become profitable by matching prospects with service suppliers. They vet credentials of service suppliers, obtain funds on their behalf, and supply a assure for the dangers of transactions. Additionally they get rewarded by receiving a proportion of the service value paid by the shopper.
These on-line platforms – enterprise fashions which are a part of the so-called sharing economic system – are rising in popularity in Africa, significantly among the many youthful technology.
However governments in Africa are but to make the most of this pattern to assist the casual sector and micro companies. So far, nearly all of the well-known platforms primarily based on the sharing economic system are run by non-public enterprises.
African governments should discover how state-backed platforms can be utilized to assist the casual sector. They can be utilized to assist casual companies entry larger markets and thereby improve their incomes.
Governments should put in some huge cash and sources to make it work, and cope with the apparent challenges confronted by the casual sector and casual sector employees.
For instance, cash will should be spent on coaching customers of the web platforms since most individuals within the casual sector have low ranges of schooling. A attainable answer is likely to be make data accessible in languages that sections of the casual sector group converse and skim. Not for revenue organisations may help with recruitment and coaching of casual sector employees, and their registration on the platform.
Different interventions ought to embody free web, free information or low-cost information for micro companies and casual operators who can not afford the price of information to make use of the web.
The query then is who pays the info value.
That is the place the participation of governments, multinational corporations and telecom corporations all throughout Africa will likely be required. With varied governments taking the lead, these entities can collaboratively assist the casual sector to make sure that expertise is used for the nice of the vast majority of Africans who work within the casual sector.
Justine Olawande Daramola receives funding from the Cape Peninsula College of Expertise (CPUT), Nationwide Analysis Basis (NRF), and different Worldwide Grant Funding Organizations like Nationwide Institute of Well being (NIH), Invoice Gates Basis.