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Gig economy is the future of work: Let’s embrace it

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There is no doubt that 2020 has been a defining year. The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will shape our lives for decades to come – both on a physical, economic and behavioral level.

Prior to the pandemic, the single biggest change to society, both socially and economically, was coming through the advance of technology, as digitalisation provided us with greater flexibility, freedom and choice. And although Covid-19 has forced major changes in the way we live, for the time being at least, it’s also accelerated our reliance upon digital technologies.

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In Africa, just like elsewhere, these changes are being felt. In particular, the gig economy has given us the freedom to work and live more efficiently and effectively. It has also opened up a very powerful new revenue stream for the continent — allowing millions to take up flexible work on their own terms.

In our post-pandemic world, the gig economy is only going to become more important and more vital. Gig work is becoming increasingly important as a potential pathway to socio-economic development and employment creation, given Africa’s unique status as the continent with the youngest population but the highest youth unemployment rate.

According to the 2016 Jobs for Youth in Africa Report by the African Development Bank (AfDB), nearly 420 million youths in Africa are unemployed, while the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that the number of youths facing unemployment in the continent is expected to reach 830 million by 2050.  

The situation looks bleak and research conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa will contribute more people to the workforce each year than the rest of the world combined by the year 2035. That’s huge when you consider that that the continent is also expected to be home to 1.25 billion people of working age by 2050. So, in order to absorb these new entrants to the work force, Africa needs to create more than 18 million new jobs each year.

Given the urgent need to provide jobs and livelihoods to Africans, it is time to examine the conventional wisdom that informal markets must transition into formal markets. It is against this background that the gig economy is fast gaining traction, with on-demand delivery start-ups and ride hailing apps leading the way.

If we take Kenya as an example, the Centre for Global Development (CGD) highlights how gig work is gradually changing how people access jobs, shifting the source of work away from informal labour and towards digital platforms

As with most disruptive technologies, platform work has the potential to grow even faster. Currently, the Kenyan online gig economy is valued at $109 million, and it employs a total of 36,573 gig workers. In the next three years, it is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 33 per cent, with the total size of the gig economy reaching $345 million and consisting of 93,875 gig workers by 2023.

Despite the gig economy being the working model of the future, it continues to face challenges. Current labour laws are still not conducive and African governments need to come up with labour laws that support workers in the informal sector as a way of sustaining the future of work in Africa.

In its report, Africa’s Gig Economy and the Role of Digital Finance, CGAP, a global development organization, cites access to capital as another challenge. Gig workers in Kenya cite savings, loans and medical insurance as top financial services they would like to access via gig platforms. While platforms across Africa increasingly offer credit and insurance, savings appears to be under-supplied.

Gig-based companies can offer better terms and embrace their responsibilities to their collaborators. Whereas gig workers may not enjoy all the benefits associated with full-time employees, it is possible to offer perks such as training and better income that would motivate the workers and encourage more to take up the gigs.

The challenges notwithstanding, the gig economy remains “the future of work in Africa”. As CGD says: “It’s time we recognized the truth about the future of work in Africa: it isn’t in the growth of full-time formal sector jobs. The future of work will be people working multiple gigs with “somewhat formal” entities. This is already true, and it will be for the foreseeable future.”

When we consider the future of work in Africa the question shouldn’t be whether jobs will be formal or informal, but how digital platforms and policymakers might come together to provide protection and benefits that more closely resemble those enjoyed by employees working under contract.

But for African countries to benefit from the gig economy, policymakers need to regulate in a way that makes the gig economy both more sustainable and inclusive. So that, eventually, it becomes less complicated belonging to either side of the labour spectrum. Perhaps then it will also serve as a panacea to the unemployment challenges faced by the continent.

Priscilla Muhiu.

The writer is the General Manager at Glovo. 

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Finding health insurance a headache for gig workers | Mid-Missouri News

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COLUMBIA – When Amy Crousore decided to become a full-time musician 3 years ago, she never imagined a pandemic would dry up her business.

Now, 8 months into the global health crisis, Crousore is reflecting on the struggles of the gig industry.

“Everything shut down and there was just no back up for us,” she said.

She said many of her colleagues were already taking day jobs before the pandemic just so they could receive health insurance.

Crousore has also taken up a job as a caretaker to make ends meet until venues reopen.

“We compared about 12 different healthcare plans,” she said. “I considered whether I would have to take a loan to pay for a more expensive plan.”

Health insurance is a headache Jason Gruender and Jen Wheeler know well.

Gruender manages Liberty Family Medicine with his wife, a doctor.

Wheeler manages Big Tree Medical Home with her husband, also a doctor.

Both clinics operate through unconventional business models that are less reliant on traditional insurance plans. Instead, you pay for a membership or one-time fees.

“We believe in our model, and it’s working well across the nation, and it’s working well here in Columbia,” Wheeler said.

Gruender is also confident in his clinic.

“I think we have a broken health care system,” he said. “The clinic is not a complete solution to that problem, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

As the world navigates a pandemic, the path to affordable health care has been riddled with troubles.

Crousore worries necessities like health care will alter the landscape of the music industry.

“Do you want there to be nobody you can call to play for your wedding because everybody is working 40 hours a week to get insurance,” Crousore asked. “What kind of world do you want?”

Gruender and Wheeler also said choosing a health insurance plan is an important decision that should be given lots of thought.

Enrollment through the Affordable Care Act is open right now and closes Dec. 15. There are other enrollment periods for special life events, such as getting married.

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Pendulum swings back to break lockdown lull with hometown New Year’s gig

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“During the whole lockdown thing it’s been kind of hard to put an original stamp on a set or a piece of live music; everyone’s been playing from their living rooms, everyone’s playing next to the f—ing fridge, so we had to come up with something new.”

The end result, an hour-long live-streamed performance at Spitbank Fort, was broadcast in October and also heralded the drum ‘n’ bass outfit’s first new material in a decade; the double-A side Driver/Nothing For Free.

Not being able to perform live has other pitfalls; even with their show at Spitbank Fort and a well-received global release, the group’s new material still hasn’t been tested in front of crowds.

“When we’re getting ready to release something always a huge component of it is playing it to small audiences, or sometimes even big audiences, and getting a lot of feedback from that, especially when it comes to Rob doing final mixdowns and stuff,” McGrillen said.

“That’s one thing we’ve definitely missed.”

Pendulum will be able to break free from the bonds of live-streaming soon and give crowds a full dose of new music with a homecoming headline slot at Perth’s Origin Fields New Year festival.

Billed as ‘Pendulum Trinity’ the group’s founding members – Swire, Gareth McGrillen and Paul ‘El Hornet’ Harding – are the first headliners announced alongside Australian house heavyweight Dom Dolla.

Based in the UK, McGrillen and Swire are very much ready to “do the whole quarantine thing” and fly to Perth to join Harding, who lives in the group’s hometown. With coronavirus cases soaring around the world, it seems there’s nowhere else they’d rather be.

“Perth’s the safest place in the world right now,” McGrillen said.

It’s been a long time between drinks on the new music front, with Swire and McGrillen splitting off to form the electro/bass-driven Knife Party after Pendulum’s last album, Immersion, was released in 2010.

Pendulum shows continued, primarily driven by Harding, and when live shows returned in 2016, so did the ideas for new music under the Pendulum banner.

As with anything released in 2020, it’s tempting to read into the new tunes as inspired by the trash-fire year that was, but Swire said the roots of Driver/Nothing For Free came as early as 2016.

“I think current events might have added 20 per cent angst to the sound,” he said.

“Ten years is a nice round number and I sort of feel if you get away longer than that, you may as well not bother … we’d been doing the Knife Party thing for about 10 years, we always feel like switching it up.”

And while 2020 marks the first new Pendulum music in a decade, it is also another milestone; 15 years since the group’s explosive debut album, Hold Your Colour.

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The release still holds a special place for fans and the group alike – “the tracks on it still feel kind of magic,” Swire said – but at the time the trio didn’t know whether they had a hit or a flop on their hands.

“It was a weird time for us, we’d only been in England for about two years when we wrote it. In retrospect, it’s kind of the sound of culture shock and sleep deprivation,” Swire said.

“I think the first time we knew this whole thing had some longevity to it was when we made the next album (2008’s In Silico).

“We sort of switched the style and it still works and we thought, ‘Well, we’re onto something’, because we’ve brought all these new fans in who don’t even like drum ‘n’ bass.”

There’s a temptation, listening to Driver/Nothing For Free, to draw parallels between the tracks and the distinct styles between Pendulum’s earlier releases.

Driver, as the name suggests, is a fast-paced drum ‘n’ bass anthem; a heavy, rolling beat setting the pace for buzzsaw basslines interspersed with breakbeat clatters. Nothing For Free, on the other hand, features sing-along hooks rising to a rocking, headbanging crescendo, reminiscent of the outfit’s later albums.

So, is this a conscious effort? Or a by-product of almost two decades producing forward-thinking, genre-blending electronic hits?

The latter, largely.

Swire and McGrillen agreed they never intended to follow their earlier work too closely, but when inspiration strikes, well, sometimes it just pans out that way.

“It somehow just organically falls into either [style]; you get a sense halfway through, you get a sense like, ‘This sounds like kind of a Hold Your Colour tip’, or you can tell it’s a new style,” Swire said.

Pendulum will perform at Langley Park on Perth’s foreshore on New Year’s Eve. Tickets and information at originfields.com.au.

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This Maltese Rapper Has Landed A Gig Producing Audio For Mike Tyson

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From partying at Dan Bilzerian’s mansion to hanging out with Instagram Influencer Alexis Ren, Chris Birdd is living the celebrity lifestyle – but nothing compares to his latest project.

The Maltese rapper has just joined forces with Mike Tyson’s team (yes, the legendary boxing champion) to mix and produce audio for his upcoming commercials. 

“My close friend became his videographer not too long ago and asked me to do all the audio engineering for Mike’s adverts,” Birdd told Lovin Malta. 

The project has been in the pipeline for some time with Birdd sworn to secrecy until the first advert was released which, in fact, was just a few days ago for a Thanksgiving special which has since been aired on TMZ and Fox News.

“The video was shot and edited by my close friends Mike Angel and Dray Millz,” Birdd continued. “At the moment I’m working project by project.”

Despite continuing to work with Tyson’s team, the Maltese rapper has yet to meet the boxing champion who is set to make his first appearance in the ring after over two decades this evening against Roy Jones Jr.

But he’s hopeful that one day he will, once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. 

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