This month Fairwork Tanzania successfully launched their second report on working conditions in the Tanzanian platform economy.
The report launch event (held on 6 October at REPOA Headquarters) brought together several stakeholders where the future of the platform economy was discussed. The expert panel – made up of influential figures from government bodies, industry experts, and workers’ representatives – shed a fresh light on navigating the future of digital labour platforms in Tanzania as well as challenges and opportunities facing the platform economy. They provided valuable insights into the intricacies of the platform sector and outlined key takeaways for the future.
Key Takeaway 1: Government Commitment and Policy Evolution
A resounding consensus emerged regarding the Tanzanian government’s commitment to fostering a conducive environment for the platform economy. The representative from the Prime Minister’s Office Labour, Youth, Employment and Persons with Disability highlighted ongoing efforts to create clear policies and laws that guide the employment of platform workers. Emphasis was placed on education and awareness to ensure that both companies and workers understand the significance of the platform sector. The panel stressed the need for updated regulations, considering the unique nature of platform work and its impact on different sectors of the economy, including the tourism industry. Safety concerns were acknowledged as well, with a call for comprehensive legal and regulatory frameworks that guarantee the safety of platform workers.
Key Takeaway 2: Challenges in Dispute Resolution and Recognition of TODA
Dispute resolution mechanisms and the status of the Transport Online Drivers Association (TODA) took centre stage in the second takeaway. Despite ongoing efforts to address TODA’s concerns, challenges persist, and the time taken to resolve disputes raised by workers remains a concern. The panel acknowledged TODA’s positive contributions and urged collaboration between companies, regulators, and TODA to swiftly address safety issues. The need for faster resolution of challenges affecting platform workers was emphasized, and the recognition of TODA’s role as a stakeholder in the sector was discussed.
Key Takeaway 3: The Platform Economy as an Economic Catalyst
The third takeaway highlighted the vital role played by the platform economy in contributing to the country’s overall economy, particularly in providing employment for youth. The importance of raising awareness in Tanzanian society about the platform economy’s nature and benefits was emphasized. Flexibility associated with platform work was noted as favorable for women in particular, offering a balance between work and family life. The sector’s potential to drive innovation, such as the adoption of environmentally friendly practices, was also recognized. The panel recommended the following to ensure that the sector offers decent jobs for all and has positive impacts on the national economy:
- Encourage continuous research to inform and guide the platform economy sector.
- Prioritize social protection measures for platform workers.
- Promote the use of employee associations to enhance bargaining power.
- Increase education and awareness about the platform economy’s benefits and contributions to employment and the national economy.
Key Takeaway 4: Harnessing ICT for Advancement and Innovation
The final takeaway of the panel underscored the pivotal role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in advancing the platform sector and fostering innovation. Concerns were raised about the urban-centric nature of ICT, prompting a call for efforts to bridge the digital divide to ensure job opportunities through digital platforms are accessible to a majority of Tanzanians. However, caution was raised to ensure that the government also creates conducive environments to ensure the safety of users’ data. The distinction between cyber and data protection was highlighted, emphasizing the importance of proper registration of companies and the need for transparent disclosure of data collection practices.
Closing Thoughts: A Journey of Challenges and Opportunities
In the closing remarks, the Fairwork Tanzania team expressed gratitude to all participants and highlighted the evolving nature of the platform economy, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and communication among stakeholders, while acknowledging the challenges as opportunities for growth. The team promised its continued research efforts to inform policies, laws, and frameworks that guide the platform sector, reinforcing the notion that the journey toward a robust and sustainable platform economy in Tanzania is an ongoing process.