Today, the way individuals work is becoming more diversified, and there are an increasing number of “gig workers” around the world who earn money by taking on one-time jobs on the Internet. For example, Uber gig workers have become a common sight in our daily lives.
The Internet is spreading rapidly in developed countries and emerging countries. In African countries, many people are starting to own smartphones, which is changing the way they work. Many workers in African countries do not belong to a single official company but are engaged in the informal sector through informal individual employment or temporary contracts. It has become easier for people who previously belonged to the informal sector with ambiguous employment status to register for smartphone applications and acquire one-time jobs on the Internet. The World Bank notes that this growing gig-worker of the Internet is beginning to change the nature of work itself and that these changes could improve work for low-income groups (World Bank 2019).
In African countries, there is a linkage between the Internet and labor, and Nigeria’s Ministry of Communications and Technology has set out to create jobs through gig work through the use of ICTs as “microwork for job creation” (Graham et al. 2017). In Uganda, the motorcycle taxies business, an informal individual activity, has been transformed into gig workers through the smartphone application. As an incentive for registering as a gig worker on the Internet, there are moves to build the capacity of those who become gig workers, such as providing free driving training and knowledge of financial management so that they do not spend all their income immediately (Inoue 2020).
The digital gig economy will provide employment opportunities for individuals. Still, it will not necessarily be a panacea, according to Meagher (2020), who notes that the World Bank’s report on the nature of work and the potential of ICTs is optimistic. In Africa, there is still a divide between those who have access to the Internet and those who do not, and the promotion of employment through the Internet is not inclusive of those who do not have access (Meagher 2020). The extent to which inclusion through digital technologies is or is not possible is still debated in many developing countries (Meagher 2021; Roy and Khan 2021).
The challenges of working as a gig worker are also summarized in a study by Graham et al. (2017), who conducted interviews with a number of gig workers. The study points out that even though they have become gig workers, the working environment has not necessarily improved due to the oversupply of workers, which causes a mismatch with demand, and overwork, which is triggered by the ubiquity of work in the digital world. In this context, it is necessary to improve the skills of each individual to reduce the gap between supply and demand of skills among gig workers.
There are also unique challenges for gig workers. These include anonymity through the Internet, leading to inappropriate responses from Internet customers, and social isolation due to reduced opportunities for direct human contact (Graham 2017). Furthermore, one of the new challenges of being a gig worker is the frustration of being just one replaceable worker (Graham 2017). Creating jobs as data on the Internet lays down a numerical visualization of each other through ratings and numbers so that workers and customers can securely deal with each other. As a result, each worker is losing their uniqueness, as the substitutability of each individual is revealed numerically, that their work can be done by anyone else. This essential perspective for humanistic work is not numerically converged and is still being discussed (Bloodworth 2018).
Bloodworth, J.(2018) Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-wage Britain.Atlantic Book.
Graham, M., Lehdonvirta, V., Wood, A., Barnard, H,, Hjorth, I. and Simon, D. P. (2017) The Risks and Rewards of Online Gig Work At the Global Margins
Meagher, K. (2020) Illusions of inclusion: assessment of the World Development Report 2019 on the changing nature of work. Development and Change, 51 (2). 667-682
Meagher, K. (2021) Informality and the Infrastructures of Inclusion: An Introduction. Development and Change.Vol. 2 (4). pp. 729-755.
Roy, P. and Khan, H. M. (2021) Digitizing Taxation and Premature Formalization in Developing Countries. Development and Change.Vol. 2 (4).
World Bank. (2019) World Development Report: Changing the nature of work. Washington D.C. World Bank.
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