Harnessing the sharing economy in developing countries
Digital marketplace platforms like AirBnB and Uber, sometimes referred to as the sharing economy, have become an essential part of the digital economy in recent years. The sharing economy is powered by applications and platforms that allow private individuals to share assets or services between them, either free or for a fee. Advocates of the sharing economy testify to enormous economic potential across sectors such as tourism, housing, transport, service provision, and finance. Price Waterhouse Coopers estimates the sharing economy will be worth US$125 billion in the next decade. These models also have a significant impact on labour markets, environmental sustainability and consumption habits around the world.
The sharing economy is also expanding swiftly in developing countries due to a number of factors. Rapid
urbanization has been matched by a growth in digitalization, the uptake of new technologies, and a sustained rise in the use of social networks. Most sharing economy applications function on mobile phones, which continue to grow in use across the developing world. Largely urbanized regions in developing countries with substantial challenges related to transport, climate change and housing are seen as frontier markets for businesses that engage in the sharing economy. Despite the relevance of the sharing economy to emerging economies, not much is known about its size, makeup or broader effects, as most studies have explored the issue in North America and Europe.
The project will support five in-depth case studies on the impact of the sharing economy in the developing world. The studies will be selected through an open call. Case studies will examine the impact of collaborative consumption models on economic gains, labour, traditional industries, use of environmental resources and consumer surplus. Along with capacity building for Southern researchers, the project seeks to help policymakers regulate this emerging sector to reconcile economic interests, safety concerns, and commitments for sustainable and fair development for citizens.