The platform economy is growing in Tanzania. These platforms have unlocked employment opportunities for people from different sectors, due to the low barrier to entry. However, the precarious nature of the industry is problematic for workers and policymakers. Most platforms treat platform workers as contractors or independent consultants, eroding their social security rights. Challenges in the platform economy include low levels of security, especially for women, income instability, job infrequency, social insecurity, price wars, income inequality between the owners of platforms and independent contractors, and lack of specific labour laws (suppressing the rights of platform workers), and risks such as general insecurity. Thus, there is a need for other stakeholders, including policymakers and collective worker bodies, to hold platforms accountable.
This first round of Fairwork ratings for Tanzania provides an understanding of the impact of the platform economy in the country. This year, Fairwork Tanzania assessed six platforms in the delivery, ride-hailing and artisan sectors against five principles of fairness: fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management and fair representation; giving each platform a rating out of ten.
Unfortunately, few local Tanzanian platforms could demonstrate compliance with Fairwork principles in this first scoring round. The Fairwork Tanzania team was unable to prove that most platforms pay the minimum wage; incorporate risk mitigating strategies and safety nets; provide transparent and clear contracts; possess decent management strategies; and formally recognise collective worker bodies. Only a few platforms could evidence documented policies and practices to ensure minimum labour standards.
It is worth noting that international platforms like Uber and Bolt could not adhere to the regulations stipulated by Tanzania’s Land Transport Regulatory Authority (LATRA). Consequently, Uber suspended their services in the country in March 2022, while Bolt changed its services from regular retail to corporate business in August 2022. The partial departure of international platforms has opened an opportunity for local platforms to thrive. This phenomenon may also boost local competition amongst platforms because they will aim to implement policies that are better than their counterparts. It is therefore critical for policymakers to continue to develop legal and regulatory frameworks that promote innovation, boost healthy competition, and above all, promote decent working conditions for all platform workers.