Call to digitalise Africa’s informal sector

Nigerian woman among millions of the country's informal sector. Photo supplied

Nigerian woman among millions of the country’s informal sector. Photo supplied

from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) EXPERTS believe Africa’s informal sector must leverage emerging digital technologies to meet local and global market needs.

Several African experts met here in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, under the aegis of the Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) at the 18th Africa Resource Bank Forum.

DRC woman selling beans 1

DRC woman selling beans

The event has been held in collaboration with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF), under the theme: “The Future of Africa’s Informal Industry in the Era of Digitalization.”

James Shikwati, IREN Director and Founder, said the emerging economic informality operators were vastly different from traditional informal economy actors.

SA informal sector

South African informal sector

“Economic informality is no longer synonymous to street vending. The street is now Facebook, Twitter etc (and so on),” Shikwati said.

The informal sector constitutes a large part of employment in African countries.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), 66 percent of total employment in Sub-Saharan Africa is from the informal sector.

Tobias Alando, Head of Membership and Board Affairs, Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), said digital technologies were opening up new opportunities for the informal sector to innovate and grow.

“It is important we foster inclusive multi-sectoral collaboration to tap into the opportunities of this sector, “Alando said.

Stefanie Steinbach, Head East Africa Office of the FNF, said, “There is need to close the digital divide for our enterprises to be competitive in the global market.”

– CAJ News

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