The Fairwork Egypt team is excited to commence fieldwork for Egypt’s Fairwork 2022 report, which officially marks the beginning of Egypt’s second round of Fairwork scoring.
The Fairwork Egypt team is based at the Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D) at the American University in Cairo’s School of Business, and is led by Nagla Rizk, Professor of Economics and founding director of the Center. This year’s team will be led by Batoul Al Mehdar, with team members: Eisha Afifi, Dana El Bashbishy, Haya El Zayat, Farah Galal and Khadiga Hassan. The team began conducting interviews in June.
Reflecting on findings from the first round of interviews, informality still seems to be the dominant and most recurrent theme in preliminary interviews conducted for round two. Workers in the Egyptian digital-platform economy still have no fixed minimum wage, no contract status or safety nets such as medical or social insurance, and thus are facing high levels of precarity in their day to day jobs.
In Egypt’s first round of Fairwork ratings, the effects of COVID-19 were heavily felt and persistent amongst workers in the informal sector. While in this round they seem to be dwindling, the ongoing worldwide economic recession continues to weigh down on the Egyptian economy at large. Yet again, the most vulnerable, including gig workers, bear the brunt of this impact. Workers are facing rising inflation and a currency diminishing in value, with no matching increases in their income to compensate.
Last summer, in June 2021 while the team was conducting the fieldwork for the first round of Egypt ratings, inflation (headline consumer price index) stood at 4.9 percent. A year later, June’s 2022 figure stood at 13.2 percent, reflecting an increase of over 60 percent in inflation figures. Furthermore, while new protections are being introduced by the Egyptian government, continuing ambiguity and lack of data on informal workers, including platform workers, makes such positive strides out of reach for them and exacerbates their invisibility.
While the current situation remains discouraging, the startup scene in Egypt is growing everyday. In this round of Fairwork ratings, the Egypt team has included three new homegrown startups, a groceries delivery service, a domestic work service and a food delivery service, that have either started operations or have grown significantly within the last year.
When observing last year’s ratings, it is clear that homegrown platforms have the most potential to adopt fairwork principles, because it is homegrown platforms which scored the highest in the last round of ratings. Hence, with more homegrown platforms being scored this year, the Egypt team hopes to report back with a more promising picture, engage in fruitful discussions with local management boards and work towards the overarching goal of creating a fairer and safer work environment for the digital-platform workers.
Keep an eye out for Egypt’s 2022 report and ratings!