By Andy Fell for the Egghead on January 7, 2020
“You might think of smartphones and broadband connections as benefiting mostly wealthier people. But in the West African nation of Senegal, the greatest beneficiaries of the digital revolution could be informal or ‘gig’ workers, says UC Davis graduate student Jessica Wallach.
'I believe that perhaps the greatest potential impact of the digital revolution in Senegal will involve helping informal workers leverage digital platforms to find work,' Wallach wrote in an article for nextbillion coauthored with Jill Lagos Shemin.
In 2018-19, Wallach was a Fulbright Scholar in Senegal where she carried out research on urbanization, gender and work. Nearly half (47 percent) of Senegalese workers are ‘informal’ receiving neither regular wages or salary, she said. Instead, people such as cleaners, electricians and other craftspeople are hired and paid for a specific job. These workers can be exploited by employers who refuse to pay, even when they work through temp agencies.
Wallach found that people of all classes and education levels were looking for work online. Although most people do not have access to a computer, more than a third of Senegalese (35 percent) have a smartphone and users can buy broadband access in affordable increments."