Experts at Rockefeller Foundation estimate that Africa’s online job market is could be worth $5 billion by 2015 making it one of the most lucrative source of employment for the continent where most youth remain out of jobs.
With outsourcing sites such as oDesk and Elance catching on in Africa, more people on the continent are turning to this source of easy and fast dollar for jobs built on a freelance economy that imports jobs to the continent over the internet.
Such jobs range from writing a simple landing page for a small business website, coding gigs to consulting engagements for occasional back-end programming problems, for workers with a variety of backgrounds, OZY reported.
Freelancer sites such as oDesk allow businesses in the US and Europe to post a job, including a pay range, language criteria, time-zone needs — and then allow contractors to bid on the work. There are elaborate rating systems for both sides, including online payments and contracts completed.
With the value of a dollar being worth more in value in Africa and other markets such as India, freelancers from these region can easily out-bid their counterparts in developed worlds and still manage a better than average income once they have completed the job successfully.
They however face challenges in terms of connectivity to the internet, which is the main medium of a good outsources freelancer, with a third of their income going to connectivity fees.
According to the Rockefeller Foundation’s findings, an average Kenyan freelancer working on Elance earns $15 per hour (three times the national average), while two-third of Africans working through oDesk earn at least half of their family’s income that way.
This is a clear boost to the local economies and could go a long way in improving household livelihoods in Africa.
Apart from high internet charges, another obvious downside of online freelance jobs is that they don’t include benefits such as health covers, the Rockefeller experts note.
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