1.2 million Kenyans work online

At least 1,209,506 Kenyans, five percent of the adult population ply their trade online, earning an average of Ksh20, 774 a month.

A national study on Digital and Digitally Enabled Work in Kenya by KEPSA added that female workers accounted for a third of the workers, 402, 284.

Workers between the ages of 18 to 35 made up 1,007,277 of the individuals doing digital and digitally-enabled jobs.

Carole Kariuki, KEPSA Chief Executive Officer said that 63 percent of adult Kenyans nationally were aware of the digital gig economy and that awareness of the Ajira Digital Program had increased from 5.5 million people (14 percent) in 2019 to 7.3 million people (29 percent) in 2021.

The study commissioned by the Ajira Digital Program and conducted by Tifa Research found that the average hourly pay was Ksh2, 001.00.

On work basis this was Ksh2, 579.00 and in a week the pay stood at Ksh7, 549, 00 compared to earnings per project which was Ksh7, 110.00.

Speaking at the event, Joe Mucheru, the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth said, the Ajira Digital Program has successfully introduced unemployed but skilled youth to the gig economy where they are able to create work for themselves and compete globally through multiple online work platforms.

Ajira Digital Program, he added had partnered with the Judiciary through the Ministry of ICT, Innovation, and youth to create work opportunities for youth where 61 courts have been digitized through data entry, scanning and transcription of documents in 183 court stations and 7 tribunals.

The program has also engaged over 50 official partners in addition to 35 linkage partners and who have enabled the project to link 37,851 youths to digital and digitally-enabled jobs on more than 56 digital work platforms.

In terms of basic or intermediate skills, the study estimates that there are 461,523 digital marketers, 141,021 transcribers and about 250,000 article writers working online in Kenya.

In terms of advanced skills, the country has 76,921 software developers and 64,100 data scientists working online. Other opportunity areas captured in the study under various skills categories include academic and scientific writing, transcription, virtual assistants, online research and surveys, coding, and data science activities.

The study notes that a third of workers who have adopted digital and digitally-enabled work prefer it because of lack of formal employment opportunities.

21 percent prefer to work online due to flexibility and convenience of digital work and another 18 percent said it was because of the ability to work part-time.

This is against the top 3 barriers to participating in digital and digitally-enabled work, which were captured as expensive internet costs at 53 percent, lack of skills to participate in some digital platforms at 52 percent and lack of access to WiFi or internet connectivity at 21 percent.

Access to internet, prohibitive cost of internet, family barriers as primary caregivers, cultural barriers, cyberbullying, lower internet usage skills and competition with experienced local and international gig workers stood out as barriers specific to women.

The KEPSA digital business process outsourcing (BPO) pulse check with over 300 private sector players, across 29 counties across Kenya indicates moderate use of digital work platforms at 41.2 percent, led by Small and Medium Enterprises that outsource services through them.

Currently, the sector is characterized by low popularity and frequency of outsourcing. The trends show that older SMEs prefer the business process outsourcing model while younger SMEs are critically involved in digital outsourcing through platforms.

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