School of Social and Political Science

UBER's Murky Labour Relations in 3 African Cities

17 November 2021
16:00 - 17:30


MS Teams - please e-mail for the link


My presentation will review the preliminary findings of recent research on the political economy of digital ride hail platforms and their impact on work, employment and public transport in three African cities: Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg.

It will explore the functioning of these platforms, and their impact on drivers/partners, drawing on both qualitative and quantitative fieldwork (a survey was administered to100 drivers in the 3 cities, and interviews and focus groups were held in them.

The presentation will start with exploring how UBER labour force is segmented by age, nationality, and ethnic group in the 3 cities, and the sector working hours and conditions, to then consider UBER strategy to secure drivers for its platform and at key times of the day (bonuses, driver ratings, and other incentives) and the extent to which UBER strategy has changed over time.

The main area of focus will be the employment relations that predominate in the sector (are UBER drivers self-employed own-account workers or drivers operating the car of someone else? Are they drivers in the process of purchasing their own car with finance or driver who already own their car?). I will argue that answering this question, neglected by much of the growing literature on ride hail apps in Africa, is of central important to begin to understand patterns of workforce internal stratification, how UBER works and for whom.

Key speakers

  • Matteo Rizzo