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Landscape Scan on Platforms for Digitally Delivered Work in Sub-Saharan Africa 

Feb 26, 2024 | Research

By Manan Sharma 

“Platforms for Digitally Delivered Work”, stand out as a particularly intriguing segment within jobtech and platform economy, mainly due to their independence from the limitations imposed by weak purchasing power in many African markets. Unlike other segments, such platforms that enable digital work have a) the capacity to link workers with service buyers across African borders and even reach lucrative markets in Europe and North America and b) the potential to create opportunities across genders (which platforms for offline work struggle with). Fueled in part by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, these platforms enabling digital work have experienced significant growth in recent years.

Our Platforms for Digital Work landscape scan deep dives into the segment as well as subcategories within the segment and evaluates prominent start-ups (e.g., Gebeya for freelance / gig work, Meaningful Gigs for contract-based work for creatives, etc.), growth drivers (e.g., Africa’s ample supply of educated youth fueling its GBS/BPO value proposition) and sub-sector specific challenges (e.g, quality control on African freelancing / online gig work platforms). 

 Platforms for Digitally Delivered Work Taxonomy

Skilled online freelancingPlatforms which match skilled workers (clerical, writing, professional services, virtual assistants, software) to gigs or ongoing work delivered through the platform
Managed services / Global business services / BPO (including managed microtasks)Businesses which manage projects or contracts (largely for other businesses) delivered by multiple semi-skilled/skilled workers.
Task-based or distributed microwork / microtasksPlatforms which connect semi-skilled/skilled workers to individual digital microwork tasks.
X-to-earn / play-to-earnPlatforms which provide earning opportunities for platform participants by undertaking certain activities through the service (e.g., playing, voting, creating).
Platforms for creative content producers / influencersPlatforms which enable influencers or creatives to increase their earnings through increased distribution or market reach, or business management.
Trading platforms for digital productsPlatforms which enable people to earn income through the purchase and trade of digital products like cryptocurrency arbitrage platforms or NFT trades.

We also analyze different business models within the segment, examining their features and limitations in the context of the African economy. These models include the listing fee model, commission model, subscription model, freemium/secondary revenue stream models, managed service models, and grant-funded models.

Furthermore, our exploration in the landscape scan extends to the opportunities and challenges faced by the sector as a whole. While governments across Africa are embracing the digital work phenomenon, the sector still grapples with a range of challenges, from infrastructural and digital barriers to issues with cross-border payments. However, if these challenges are tackled innovatively, these platforms could unlock immense potential for African talent to harvest global demand for digital work, agnostic of the gender of the service provider – given such platforms have been proven to enable women with additional responsibilities to work remotely.

For a more in-depth understanding of Platforms for Digitally Delivered Work in Sub-Saharan Africa, you can access our landscape scan here.  

A short version of this Landscape Scan is also available as a video-based e-learning course on the VC4A website here

The Author, Manan Sharma, is a Venture Building Extern at the Jobtech Alliance


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