Example: South Africa

Uber and other platforms in South Africa. How is it not regulated?

A number of digital platforms are represented in South Africa, including Uber, Uber Eats, Airbnb and Taxify.

However, according to a 2018 report by Acenture, South Africa is not seen as platform ready: it ranks 14 out of 16 G20 countries on Accenture's Platform Readiness Index.

 Despite being home to the highest number of digital platforms in Sub-Saharan Africa, the country's poor physical infrastructure, skills shortages, and lack of a stable government are getting in the way of the country's platform readiness, says the study. Improvement for SA includes two critical platform success factors: creating an enabling environment and growing critical mass.[1]

As a result, the status of gig economy workers is unregulated in terms of South African labour laws, leaving “giggers” in a vulnerable position - although this is being challenged. In 2017 the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) issued a ruling that seven Uber drivers who had been “deactivated” from the Uber platform and had subsequently referred unfair dismissal claims to the CCMA were not independent contractors but must be considered employees. This means these drivers are given employee protection in terms of the Labour Relations Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Uber South Africa has appealed the ruling and is currently awaiting judgment.[2]

An added complication, although information so far is mainly anecdotal, is that many Uber and Taxify drivers are not South African, and are not in the country legally. This places drivers in a very vulnerable position in terms of not being able to negotiate for decent work.

There are no updated figures available for gig economy workers in South Africa, except for  Airbnb’s community of home hosts in South Africa, which has grown to date to over 35,000. The majority of them are women (65%).[3]


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