African jobs in the digital era: export options with a focus on online labour

Version
1.0
Resource Type
Text
Creator
  • Melia, Elvis
Collective Title
  • Discussion Paper
    3/2020
Publication Date
2020-02-17
Publication Place
Bonn
Language
English
Free Keywords
Online labour; IT-enabled services exports; Fourth Industrial Revolution; Future of work; knowledge economy; Sub-Saharan Africa; crowdwork
Description
  • Abstract

    This study asks what impact the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have on job creation and catchup development in Sub-Saharan Africa over the coming decade. Can light manufacturing export sectors still serve African development the way they served East Asian development in the past? If factory floor automation reduces the need for low-cost labour in global value chains, can IT-enabled services exports become an alternative driver of African catch-up development? I present case study evidence from Kenya to show that online freelancing has become an interesting sector, both in terms of its growth trajectory, and in terms of worker upward mobility in the global knowledge economy. As life everywhere moves further into the digital realm, and global internet connectivity between Africa and the rest of the world grows, more and more young Africans who stream onto the labour market may find work in the world of global online freelancing. I discuss the building blocks needed to make online work a sustainable vehicle for African catch-up development in the years ahead.

     

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Update Metadata: 2020-02-27 | Issue Number: 4 | Registration Date: 2020-02-27