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Hi, Q-MHI Africa readers!

INFORMALITIES

When it comes to African economies, particularly in sub Saharan Africa, many of us are instinctively aware that most markets are dominated by their informal sectors.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has estimated the informal sector’s average size as a share of GDP in sub-Saharan Africa is 41%. This is as low as under 30% in South Africa to 60% in Nigeria and Tanzania. It’s an even bigger employer, representing some 75% of non-agricultural employment, and over 70% of total employment in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 90% of new jobs created in some African countries are in the informal economy.

A fish monger smiles as she waits for customers at her open stall within the trading centre in the U.S. President Barack Obama's ancestral village of Nyang'oma Kogelo, west of Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 14, 2015. President Obama visits Kenya and Ethiopia in July, his third major trip to Sub-Saharan Africa after travelling to Ghana in 2009 and to Tanzania, Senegal and South Africa in 2011. He has also visited Egypt, in North Africa, and South Africa for Nelson Mandela's funeral. Obama will be welcomed by a continent that had expected closer attention from a man they claim as their son, a sentiment felt acutely in the Kenyan village where the 44th U.S. president's father is buried. Picture taken July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas MukoyaGambar terkait

To be clear, the vibrancy of the informal sector is as much out of necessity as it is a sign of the vibrancy and entrepreneurial spirit of Africans. It’s no coincidence that Africa’s most advanced economy, South Africa, has one of the lowest shares of GDP attributed to the informal sector. But for many African countries—as in other emerging markets around the world—the paucity of basic infrastructure and smaller corporate sector, means the informal sector is often the main option for economic opportunity. And this won’t change anytime soon, World Bank research found people with higher education are increasingly seeking work in the informal sector.

IMF Managing Director Lagard in Ethiopia

This isn’t good news for African governments as the informal sector, by its very definition, usually implies lower tax revenue opportunities. This comes at a time when multilateral organizations like the World Bank and IMF are pressuring African governments to diversify from commodities and step up revenue collection—as Christine Lagarde did in her interview with us while in Addis Ababa earlier this month.

But what role has digital technology played in enabling, or even undermining, the informal sector? This is what researchers at London School of Economics set out to uncover in a new white paper.

Hasil gambar untuk Don’t underestimate the power of Africa’s informal sector in a global economy

The paper is generally optimistic, but clear-eyed, about the potential of new information technology to enhance various sectors from agriculture and transport to mobile money and employment. But it cautions, “digital innovations are not only disruptive of formal economies; they can also disrupt structures and routines in the informal economy, bypassing and disadvantaging some precarious workers even as they include others.”

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The researchers are concerned that some at the bottom of the economic pyramid could get left behind if the focus of new technology’s impact is just about productivity increases, reduced transaction costs and low value jobs. They suggest the focus should be on “public benefits, decent work, long-term economic development and social protection for poorer people. They also suggest a greater focus on public as well as market-led forms of digital innovation.

— Yinka Adegoke, Q-MHI Africa editor

SPONSOR CONTENT BY DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS

Cholera vaccination at Nyaragusu refugee camp in Tanzania

In a disaster zone, speed is of the essence. Doctors Without Borders creates innovative facilities, like inflatable hospitals and mobile surgical trailers, which provide humanitarian relief around the world. To help Doctors Without Borders save lives, consider donating.

STORIES FROM THIS WEEK

Shirts are displayed, for sale, during the Satoshi Square at the Bitcoin Center NYC in New York May 22, 2014. Satoshi Square is the World's Largest Direct Sellers-to-Buyers Bitcoin trading pit at the Bitcoin Center NYC, located a block from the New York Stock Exchange in New York's financial district.

Why bitcoin trading has been booming in Nigeria. Peer-to-peer trading of bitcoin in Nigeria increased by nearly 1,500% in 2017. Reporting from Lagos, Yomi Kazeem explains why the cryptocurrency trade volume is increasing and the crop of local exchanges that are easing this process.

Singer ELi performs in the music video for his song Gold Coast.

Ghana’s underground hip-hop artists are using their music to raise environmental awareness. In the music video for his song Gold Coast, released last year, Ghanaian rapper ELi stands on Accra’s Labadi beach,Over the last few years, Ghana’s beaches have become clogged with garbage and its city drowned in plastic bottles. Rachel Leah reports from Accra on how rappers are using music to raise environmental awareness and hold the government accountable.

Hasil gambar untuk IMF managing director Christine Lagarde In an exclusive interview with Quartz Africa

IMF’s Christine Lagarde warns Africa to watch out for its oncoming debt crisis. In an exclusive interview with Q-MHI Africa, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde warned that some African countries could see their debt burden triggered in 2018 as richer economies improved. She also discussed Africa’s opportunity in manufacturing, unemployment, startups and IMF’s evolving relationship with Africa.

Copy of embassy_12

How Ghana became West Africa’s international visa fraud capital. For over a decade, visa fraud in Ghana has risen to involve both ordinary citizens and even members of parliament. The growth of this industry, Yepoka Yeebo writes from Accra, is now putting the identity of frequent travelers with legitimate documents at risk.

ENKenMatatu.6.12.17 - 5 - Equality Now. women going to board busENKenMatatu.6.12.17- 6 - Equality Now. matatu campaign launch photo

Kenya wants to make its matatus a safe space for women. For many women in Kenya, getting on the popular matatu buses means risking harassment and even rape. But as Stephanie Wanga explains, a new private-public campaign is implementing a plan to make sexual harassment and its tolerance an expensive affair for bus owners and operators.

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2011 photo, a man takes pictures with his cell phone on Tahrir, or Liberation Square, in Cairo, Egypt. A new cell phone photography class at a suburban Philadelphia university focuses on both the quality of the images and the ethical responsibilities that come with taking and publishing them.Migrants on a rubber dinghy await rescue by the Malta-based NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) in the central Mediterranean in international waters some 15 nautical miles off the coast of Zawiya in Libya, April 14, 2017.    REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi - RTX35J6X

The good and bad trends that shaped Africa’s digital space in 2017. Internet shutdowns and the spread of fake news on social media were some of the issues that affected African internet users this past year. And while there’s plenty of bad precedents, Abdi Latif Dahir recounts some of the good that came out of the tech sector too.

CHART OF THE WEEK

Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy President of South Africa during the press conference in September 2017.An ANC member arrives at the 54th National Conference of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa December 16, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko - RC117CDA55E0

 

Cyril Ramaphosa could solve South Africa’s problems—by reforming his party first. South Africa’s ruling ANC electedbusinessman and former union activist Cyril Ramaphosa as the party’s next president. Expected to become president in 2019, his victory and the prospect that he would steer the economy in the right direction, saw the rand reach its strongest levels. But as Lynsey Chutel notes, Ramaphosa has a difficult task ahead, key among them uniting a divided party.

Deputy president of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa reacts after he was elected president of the ANC during the 54th National Conference of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko - RC1289F77440atlas_SyrgjjrMf@2x (1)

 

OTHER THINGS WE LIKED

Hasil gambar untuk The African Enlightenment

The African Enlightenment started 100 years before John Locke and Emmanuel Kant. The Enlightenment thinkers in Europe are credited for developing the ideas about reason, tolerance and liberty that have come defined our modern societies. But as Dag Herbjørnsrud writes in Aeon magazine, those rationalist philosophies were first professed from a cave by a seventh century Ethiopian philosopher named Zera Yacob.

Hasil gambar untuk Special Report: How to make millions selling passports to AfricaHasil gambar untuk Special Report: How to make millions selling passports to AfricaHasil gambar untuk Special Report: How to make millions selling passports to AfricaHasil gambar untuk Special Report: How to make millions selling passports to Africa

How to make millions selling passports to Africa. Getting a passport in African countries is an expensive, and in many times, corrupt affair. In this Reuters investigation, David Lewis and Philippe Engels explain how one company profited from making passports for multiple African nations through bribery and illicit deals while securing honorary consulships for its employees.

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