In all parts of Africa, freelancing is a sector that is rapidly growing. Attracting both men and women, freelancing is providing a variety of opportunities that run parallel with the economic dynamism that the African continent is experiencing today.

Currently, more and more companies and individuals are choosing this new model of employment. In a study conducted this year by Financial services company, Payoneer, who surveyed 21,000 freelancers from 170 countries around the globe, reports that Africa holds 10.1% of the world’s freelancers, a situation which is obviously increasing.

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Freelance can be found in all sectors: Economy, consultancy, graphic design, translation, writing, photography, and computer science. Companies are finding it increasingly difficult to find candidates for permanent employment. Workers from younger generations want as much as possible to define their career by themselves and to be able to leave their employer whenever they wish.

This rise of self-employment in Africa today is structural. The economy has changed, and the way to create added value, too. The business models of the traditional companies are challenged under the double blow of the virtual economy and globalization that is spreading rapidly throughout the continent. New professions have emerged alongside the development of the web economy over the past ten years. These professions, which are not dynamic in terms of job creation, have one thing in common…it only takes a computer and an internet connection to be able to get to work. We can work anywhere at any time. Often, intellectual or creative professions that are boosted by a web culture of sharing and collaborative work pushes business to imagine other models of organization and new forms of management. This model of employment suits the current generation of youth without too much hierarchy, of course. It is a revolution that is changing the classical organization in the workplace. Becoming one’s own boss, creating one’s job, and working from home independently is becoming increasingly attractive in Africa.

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ID:	16801A Trend Attracting African Youth

Today, in most of African countries, the job market is difficult, especially for young graduates. Without being able to find a job that suits them, young graduates are increasingly moving towards the creation of their personal activity. For the more experienced, it can be a combination with a job or retirement. For young people, it is an alternative to the classical job search and a solution to overcome the problem of unemployment.

In Morocco, South Africa, Nigeria, and all African countries where there are metropolitan cities, many workers are turning to freelancing and self-employment. Some of them leave their full-time jobs either in the public or the private sector to set up their own projects, sometimes without a guarantee of being able to derive a sufficient income.
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Speaking to Africa.com, 34-year-old Ivorian Freelancer, Ndom Fabrice, thinks freelance jobs can be helpful to so many unemployed graduates. Specializing in scientific data, Fabrice holds a Master’s Degree in Biotechnology. His thesis included two components – biology and computer science. A PhD in bioinformatics was a logical continuation for his career. “But, I decided to stop because I noticed that there were more freelance opportunities in IT than in biology,” said Fabrice.

Fabrice had a full-time job opportunity to work in the IT department at a local company in his country, but he refused.
“I decided to work as freelancer, looking for temporary tasks so that I can work with different companies at the same time. For some people, a full-time job is better, but things have been changed; we should adapt ourselves to these changes, ” said Fabrice.
The same view is also shared by Tunisian, Ahmed Zaitouni, president of “Tunis Freelancers Club” in Tunisia. He thinks that freelancing in Africa will be the fashion of jobs in the next two decades. According to a study conducted by the club in 2016, the fast-growing sectors of new technologies, renewable energies, public services, and communications are all attracting young people to have their own projects and, therefore, working at the same time with different companies and customers. “It is a model that attracts more young people in North Africa who have finally understood that the public sector cannot employ all of them. Therefore, freelance jobs can help them have an income,” explained Zaitouni, who also believes, “A full-time job limits freedom, development and innovation.”

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For this generation of web entrepreneurs, the traditional model of the employment contract, the relationship of subordination with an employer is not necessarily of great interest. These experts earn more by working freelance and can continue to progress and learn much faster by being independent than by staying in the same job for several years.

For Moroccan, Toufik Bougarne, Director and Founder of PsdMaroc Magazine, a famous freelance designer with more than 13 years of experience in the field of design, branding and typography, there are a variety of sectors in Morocco where freelancers can innovate and make successful careers. Graphic Design, according to Bougarne, is one of the areas where talented young people can work alone or with a company; they just need to have a laptop and to unlock their imagination to show their intellectual and emotional abilities. He stressed that young people can be successful freelancers if they can create a good relationship with the customer and have the technical capabilities on the one hand, and the ability to do self-marketing and convince customers on the other hand.
“I think individuals and companies have finally understood that freelance can solve a lot of problems, which is also good for companies in terms of cost, as freelancing work out costs a little less than a full-time employee. Freelancers cannot compete with companies, but they would rather cooperate with them. The development of freelance starts from the freelancer, himself. It starts with organizing the tools of work and time, and ends with finalizing the final work to meet the needs of the customer. It is essential for young freelancers to know how to do self-marketing and how to search for business partners, whether they are individuals, institutions or companies,” said Bougarne.
An Employment Model That Suits Companies

The job market in Africa is in full reconversion. For a few years now, both African companies and international enterprises working in Africa have had to adapt to the new trends in the sector. The various market players seem to have agreed on the interest of working with freelancers. Simply browse the recruitment sites to see the growing interest of companies for freelancing contracts. The ads are posted everywhere, and the contenders are just as numerous. This new model is a trend that is shaking up the world of business today as companies are always looking for new and, above all, flexible talent to start a collaboration with a freelancer. In fact, a signature and an invoice can suffice easier and more practical than the administrative burden of a conventional hiring. It is the same when it comes to salaries, as Zaitoni pointed out:
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“In the study we conducted in Tunis Freelancers’ Club, we found out that a freelancer costs 30% less than a regular employee. Companies now prefer to hire freelancers and have develop a contract to a specific mission or over a specific period because they are generally less costly, which is better for them than hiring permanent employees who cost more in terms of Social Security coverage and retirement,” said Zaitoni.

For a company, it is easier to check the expertise of freelancers before starting a collaboration. By contacting one’s former freelance clients, consulting the freelancers portfolio, or simply by observing his or her activity and their contributions on the web, the maneuver is simple. Moreover, far from being scattered over several fields of qualifications, freelancers have the specificity of staying at the forefront in their areas of expertise. Choosing a freelancer means having a seasoned professional.

Today, African companies are working on the digitalization of their activities to meet the needs of the international markets. Therefore, the situation is speeding up the use of self-employed workers. Speaking to Africa.com, Bruce Cooper, the Executive Administrator of the Southern African Freelancers’ Association (SAFREA), stressed that the changes in some business domains are the causes behind the interest of African companies in the model of freelancing.
“In the wake of news and information becoming more accessible and available online, the media print industry has been in slow decline. Consequently, there have been many retrenchments in that sector compelled by companies needing to downsize. Some of those retrenched have turned to freelance for an alternative income and we’ve admitted new members into our association because of this,” said Cooper.
The same speaker pointed out that lifestyle changes are also a reason for workers to move into the freelance economy or, as it is now popularly known, the ‘gig economy.’ Many find that working from home offers more freedom and flexibility in their domestic life, as well as in their careers. They are no longer stifled by corporate protocol and authority and can fulfill their potential in ways that they couldn’t while employed by a corporation.

“Rather than carry the costs of staff positions, employers are turning to freelancers or contractors to fill their requirements,” explained Cooper. Limits and Challenges

Freelancing in Africa is still emerging and growing. Becoming self-employed offers a lot of freedom, but does requires a sense of rigor and a level of responsibility that freelancers cannot escape. Obviously, this mode of recruitment can have limits, especially if it leads to more precariousness. For companies, opting for a freelancer while the mission requires full-time work will certainly not achieve the desired objectives. Other failures can also occur in the opposite direction. Another limit that can appear is the inability of freelance to integrate into the culture of the company, which can negatively impact its performance, mainly on the African continent where the economic activity is not yet fully developed in some countries.

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“In the study we conducted in Tunis Freelancers’ Club, we found out that a freelancer costs 30% less than a regular employee. Companies now prefer to hire freelancers and have develop a contract to a specific mission or over a specific period because they are generally less costly, which is better for them than hiring permanent employees who cost more in terms of Social Security coverage and retirement,” said Zaitoni.

For a company, it is easier to check the expertise of freelancers before starting a collaboration. By contacting one’s former freelance clients, consulting the freelancers portfolio, or simply by observing his or her activity and their contributions on the web, the maneuver is simple. Moreover, far from being scattered over several fields of qualifications, freelancers have the specificity of staying at the forefront in their areas of expertise. Choosing a freelancer means having a seasoned professional.

Today, African companies are working on the digitalization of their activities to meet the needs of the international markets. Therefore, the situation is speeding up the use of self-employed workers. Speaking to Africa.com, Bruce Cooper, the Executive Administrator of the Southern African Freelancers’ Association (SAFREA), stressed that the changes in some business domains are the causes behind the interest of African companies in the model of freelancing.
“In the wake of news and information becoming more accessible and available online, the media print industry has been in slow decline. Consequently, there have been many retrenchments in that sector compelled by companies needing to downsize. Some of those retrenched have turned to freelance for an alternative income and we’ve admitted new members into our association because of this,” said Cooper.
The same speaker pointed out that lifestyle changes are also a reason for workers to move into the freelance economy or, as it is now popularly known, the ‘gig economy.’ Many find that working from home offers more freedom and flexibility in their domestic life, as well as in their careers. They are no longer stifled by corporate protocol and authority and can fulfill their potential in ways that they couldn’t while employed by a corporation.

“Rather than carry the costs of staff positions, employers are turning to freelancers or contractors to fill their requirements,” explained Cooper. Limits and Challenges

Freelancing in Africa is still emerging and growing. Becoming self-employed offers a lot of freedom, but does requires a sense of rigor and a level of responsibility that freelancers cannot escape. Obviously, this mode of recruitment can have limits, especially if it leads to more precariousness. For companies, opting for a freelancer while the mission requires full-time work will certainly not achieve the desired objectives. Other failures can also occur in the opposite direction. Another limit that can appear is the inability of freelance to integrate into the culture of the company, which can negatively impact its performance, mainly on the African continent where the economic activity is not yet fully developed in some countries.

Today in Africa, many freelancers unite in clubs and associations to help each other do well in this model and overcome the limits and challenges of said model. Southern African Freelancers’ Association is an example of one of these associations that contributes to the development of freelancing in Africa. According to its executive administrator, Bruce Cooper, SAFREA was formed with the following aims: To promote the interests of freelance professionals in the written, visual or broadcast field, to foster solidarity and excellence among freelancers and to promote cooperation in all matters of common concern, to stimulate professional standards and ethical conduct in both freelancers and employers, to provide information that will help freelancers negotiate suitable payments and contracts, to provide a forum for the dissemination of information useful to freelancers and prospective clients, and, finally, to serve as the collective voice of freelance media professionals in the Southern African region.

Nowadays, Freelancing is spreading more and more in Africa as it is advantageous for companies as much as for workers, despite some disadvantages. We imagine that this model of doing business today is more adapted to the needs of the X and Y generations. Will we all be freelancers in a few years? A prior no, but in all cases, the trend is present. An Intuit study shows that more than 40% of paid jobs in the United States will be self-employed in 2025, which represents 60 million people! Obviously and logically, the same situation will be in Africa.
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