Jobs, jobs, jobs – that's what’s on Africa’s collective mind

22 June 2021,  Moky Makura

It has been 18 months since the first Coronavirus case was reported in Wuhan, China. The economic impact of the pandemic is hitting hard in Africa. We know, not because of economic data but because the most searched term in 10 African countries in Africa ( including Mali, Sudan, Somalia, Niger, and Botswana) was “jobs”.

Given the high rate of formal unemployment on the continent, it’s no real surprise that those who can, usually the young, are choosing to surf the web to find jobs. According to the AfDB, nearly one-third of the continent’s 420 million youth aged 15-35 are unemployed, and only one in six is in wage employment.

The gig economy, a catch-all term for people who work independently and get paid for each transaction, is seen as the global solution for job creation in Africa, and access to it is typically online. McKinsey estimates that 63% of the total labour force in Africa engages in some form of self-employment, so we are pleased to see that Africans are not being left behind.

The second most searched term – showing up in 6 countries, including the biggest economies on the continent (Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria) was “price”. This could mean Africans are increasingly moving to online shopping sites or using the internet to check pricing before they part with hard-earned cash.

Interestingly, online gambling appears to have increased in popularity in South Sudan, Angola, DRC, Gambia, and Lesotho, with the most searched term being “sports betting”. It was the third most searched term on the continent and is probably linked to the economic hardship in those countries.

But we couldn’t resist delving into why the American fast-food chain McDonald’s was the most searched term in Libya when it doesn’t have a MacDonald’s. Only four of Africa's 54 countries have official McDonald's franchises: Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco, and South Africa. They have about 387 restaurants combined, far fewer than the 1,222 outlets in California – the state with the most Mcdonald’s in America. It turns out that Libyans were concerned about the closing down of an unlicensed “McDonald’s” restaurant in Tripoli by The Libyan Food and Drug Control Centre for health and safety infringements. Sign enough for McDonald’s to consider opening in its 5th African country?