Uber, Matthew Effect and Inequality. 

  

Source: HMInsurance

“Longer than it took a culture to unravel, I suspected. I tried to imagine the Indonesian workers who were now making their way to the sorts of factories that had once sat along the banks of the Calumet River, joining the ranks of wage labor to assemble the radios and sneakers that sold on Michigan Avenue. 

I imagined those same Indonesian workers ten, twenty years from now, when their factories would have closed down, a consequence of new technology or lower wages in some other part of the globe.”

Barack Obama, Dreams of Father, Page 73

My wife hired a driver who takes her around with our single car. Recently, our schedules were clashing so I decided to let her go with the car. Stranded in our far corner in Lekki, I decided the best thing to do is to use the dormant taxi-booking Uber app on my iPhone.
Here we go. It worked like magic. A well kept Hyundai Elantra was infront my apartment and Stanley, the driver, gave me all the courtesies. He had sweets in the car, asked if I wanted Gospel or a specific radio station. It was a cool ride though he did not take me to the final decision as I didn’t know LBS had another campus down the road. So I took another Uber down another journey of 30 mins. Another amazing driver with patience and good sense of humor.

 The next morning, I wished my wife goodbye to office. I reached for my Uber app. Another person was here with a neat Geely car. I was getting addicted to the service. I rated them well for food service. I was about to leave office for an event, I checked Uber again but there no car around in YABA. 

I am thinking of two people – Victor, the driver we hired who I am getting tired of his erratic ways and the yellow public taxis on the road, roaming around for passengers in Lagos. Disruption is gradually happening to them but they don’t know. This is what the taxi unions are fighting in London and are failing to stop.  This is what Shoprite, SPAR and other retail stores are doing to brick-and-mortar retailers who stay in sweltering sun but they don’t see it. The disruption is on and no one opening their eyes to it. My wife told me of her cool rich friend who when bored just becomes an Uber driver just to have fun and meet people.

It is that “Matthew effect” keep me thinking:

Matthew 25:29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.

That’s why Thomas Piketty is a recent rockstar economist because the way the world is wired, it keeps expanding the bounds of exclusion for the unlearned and inequality keeps rising as seen in his seminal work. 
Does the developing world benefit from globalization or that it has come to scrape off what we have? Just look at when we thought we could export out Shooting Stars, Rangers and Kano Pillars, we have all sunk in the EPL/La Liga football fest giving DSTV the leash to fix prices as it seems. What happens to our own when it is not up to standard? It crumbles, it keeps failing obeying the Matthew effect. 

That’s why China, the new taskmaster summons Africa and offers loans which is technically an offer of expertise to build bridges, dams, roads where Africa has none. India also did its summit,calls  Africa leaders far away for a historic welcome. It promises loans and grants but in essence just to keep its factories oiled and its population paid.

Open your borders, open your gates, we are coming for you with stash. Are they are to fish or teach us how to fish?  Is Africa rising on its own steam or just another raid that expands the left-behinds?

What are we going to do it as irresponsible greedy  acts of our leaders widen the gap? Is Africa not rising for a few and how do will deal with the fault lines of a more unequal society? 

The answers are not that easy. Like the Chinese took strategic decisions years back to expand its spectrum of knowledge, Africa has to take one too. As long as Africa looks outside to solve its own problems, it keeps holding the short end of the stick, transferring capital to the haves.

Inspiration from Pastor Poju Oyemade and Pius Adesanmi

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One thought on “Uber, Matthew Effect and Inequality. 

  1. This instructive message reminds us of our responsibility to engage the globalization process with every sense of selectivity: both foreign technology and capital should be indiscriminately obtained and channeled to areas of high regenerative capacity.

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