Accepted paper:

Rewiring the Social Contract: Digital Taxis and Economic Inclusion in Nigeria


Kate Meagher (LSE)

Paper short abstract:

The rise of the gig economy in Africa has triggered calls for a new social contract. Focusing on digital taxis in Nigeria, this paper will examine how digital employment platforms disrupt conventional employment arrangements and reshape livelihoods and processes of economic inclusion.

Paper long abstract:

The rise of digital employment platforms, often referred to as the 'gig economy', has been accompanied by a call for a new social contract in order to facilitate expanded creation of quality employment. This offers a potential solution to the complex employment challenges of contemporary Africa, characterized by high levels of informality, unemployment and rapid population growth. This paper looks beyond the hype to explore how the gig economy is reshaping livelihood opportunities and reformatting processes of social and economic inclusion among digital taxi drivers in Nigeria. Do proposed changes in the social contract address the problems of precarity and disaffection among Nigerian digital taxi drivers, or do they consolidate a new regime of accumulation around the digital incorporation of precarious labour? This paper will examine the quality of livelihoods created by the gig economy, and the limitations of digital employment in promoting sustainable livelihoods and the public good. The case study will inform a consideration of whether the prevailing vision of a new social contract represents a mechanism of economic inclusion or adverse incorporation for Nigeria's informal labour force, and refocus attention on the requirements for a more inclusive social contract.

panel Econ17
Disrupting the wage: post-work futures within and beyond Africa