Technology and the future of work: Implications for inequality in the Global South

This project aims to address growing concerns about the potential for technological change to exacerbate inequality in the Global South. Much of the current thinking underlying this view is speculative and supported by little empirical evidence. Where there is evidence, it tends to ignore the specificities of employment in the Global South — for example, the large informal economy, widespread unemployment, and the gendered patterns of paid and unpaid work. The goal of this project is to address this critical knowledge gap and generate an evidence base to inform discussions about the implications of technological change on the future of work and inequality in the Global South.

Focusing on three key issues — the patterns of technological change and the impact on the future of work; social protection and care work; and the informal economy — the project will explore the nexus between technological advances, the future of work, and inequality in the Global South (with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East). Sector-specific studies will complement this work and offer contextual evidence in areas such as mining, banking, care work, manufacturing, and the digital/platform economy.

Policy and research expertise within Global South countries will be harnessed to elevate Southern voices and perspectives. By enabling the establishment of a Southern research network, the project will seek to develop and disseminate rigorous, evidence-based policies and best practices to address the challenges of the future of work in the selected countries.

Project ID


Project status



36 months

IDRC Officer

Martha Melesse

Total funding

CA$ 803,900


Middle East, North of Sahara, South of Sahara, South Asia, South of Sahara

Project Leader

David Francis


WITS Commercial Enterprise (Proprietary) Limited

Institution Country

South Africa

Institution Website