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Under whose jurisdiction does a digital worker resorts?

Under whose jurisdiction does a digital worker resorts?

DAKAR – Oxford Professor Mark Graham addressing the 4th UNI Africa Conference warned of the danger of ‘parasitic capitalism’ where digital companies give little back to the places where they are embedded and platform workers are left to fend for themselves.

Drawing from his recently launched paper “Digital Labour and Development” and the corresponding report “The Risks and Rewards of Online GigWork At the Global Margins” Professor Graham said that there are many opportunities and challenges for African workers in the new digital world.

The geographically dispersed nature of digital work platforms has made it extremely hard to regulate.” he said.

Pillip Jennings for the UNI Global Union “We have to face the reality – the research that has been undertaken by Oxford University, the World Economic Forum, the OECD and others all points to a bleak future of employment which cuts across many sectors.” Jennings said.

Both Professor Graham and Jennings agree that this poses policy questions at all levels. The two experts agree that this needs urgency policy responses.

Graham said, “There is an alternative to the ‘Upwork.com ’ and ‘Mechanical Turk’ model which is unfortunately successfully pushing the platform economy in its image.”

And we can use what we know about the economic geographies of digital work to envision and strive for an alternate and fairer future for working people in Africa and around the world” he said proposing that concrete solutions must be found to improve the bargaining power of digital platform workers.

He argues that, similar to all other employment that is based in a physical location, digital workers must enjoy equal transparency, work according to best practices, paid a living wag, have appropriate social and economic protection, and have the risk associated with their work, contained.

There are many who thrive in that environment” Graham said, but the role of labour regulation should be to help the most vulnerable. “We can also use what we know about the socially disembedded nature of this work, to push for more of it to be sourced through firms, social enterprises, non-profits, and of course cooperatives – of the non-platform – variety – that adhere to local labour laws.”

Professor Graham is advocating for a Fair Work foundation instead of a Fairtrade foundation to verify and certify these sorts of things.

One solution offered may be that employment status should be established in the place that a service is actually provided. “Why should an employer based in Germany or the US be able to avoid adhering to labour laws and minimum standards just because they used a digital platform to connect with a worker?” he asked.

He advocates for creating a transnational digital workers’ union: “If we lack the physical proximity that unions traditionally needed, we at least need some sort of shared occupational identity. One explicit role for a digital workers’ union could be building class consciousness amongst the varied workers, part-time, temporary, full-time, entrepreneurs etc.”

Highlighting the precariousness of this work, Graham stressed that workers are receiving many of the risks of entrepreneurship, but few of the rewards, however he is still positive about the future of digital work.

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Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia

Promotion

20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.