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Elvis Melia

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Lecturer at the Chair of Political Science, International Relations and African Politics

Elvis Melia advises African governments and development partners on digital transformation, economic growth and governance. In this capacity, he has advised the Government of Kenya (Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs), the Government of Ethiopia (Ministry of Innovation and Technology), and the Government of Rwanda (Ministry of ICT and Innovation), as well as African private sector associations such as the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries. He frequently works for development agencies such as GIZ or USAID and has advised the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Friedrich Ebert Foundation. At the University of Oxford, he has worked with the Blavatnik School’s Digital Pathways at Oxford (on African digital transformation), and is in an ongoing research collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute’s iLabour project (on African online labour). Elvis regularly conducts fieldwork in Africa and has written case studies on Angola, Chad, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Sudan. He is a lecturer at the University of Duisburg-Essen (at the Chair of International Relations and African Politics), an associate researcher at German Development Institute (Research programme: Transformation and Economic and Social Systems), and a member of the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF). He lives with his wife and two daughters in Erkrath near Düsseldorf.

About / CV



Raum:LF 326
Telefon:(0203) 379-3107
Sprechzeiten:Sprechstunde donnerstags von 15 bis 16 Uhr virtuell (Anmeldung per Email)
Zuständiges Sekretariat:Julia Nachtigall

About / CV

05/2021 - GIZ employment promotion (via Melia CRED)
Consultancy, Study: " Rwanda: The Future of Work in 2030"


Digital Skills Accelerator Africa (DSAA) (via GIZ)
Consultancy, strategy: "The role of DSAA in the digital transformation process in partner countries - case studies of Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, and Rwanda

10/2020 – 11/2020 Rwanda Ministry of ICT & Innovation (via i4Policy & GIZ)
Consultancy, strategy: "The Technology-Enabled Innovation Policy"


Generation Kenya (via USAID)
Consultancy, strategy:  "Towards developing an ICT / Digital / Technology-based learning platform in Kenya – a market sizing exercise"

5/2020 –

University of Duisburg-Essen, Faculty of Social Sciences
Lecturer at the Chair of International Relations and African Politics


Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Consultancy, online learning platform module "Governance for Growth," (part of the Academy for International Cooperation "Quality of Growth" educational platform)


Ethiopia Ministry of Innovation and Technology (via Tony Blair Institute)
Consultancy, Strategy primer: "Ethiopia's Digital Transformation Strategy (Pathways for Prosperity pilot)"

2018 – 2019

Kenya Private Sector Alliance & Ministry of ICT (via Rockefeller Foundation)
Consultancy, Study: “The Constraints to Online Work in Kenya”

2017 – 2020

German Development Institute (DIE) (via GIZ & BMZ)
Consultancy on digital-era jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa


Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (via Vanguard Economics & USAID)
Consultancy, Study: “Industrialization Framework for Zimbabwe: Research Report”

2015 – 2016

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Consultancy, Study: “Rwanda’s Top 5 Off-Farm Sectors: A Strategy for Short-Term Industrial Policy”

2014 – 2015

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Consultancy, Study: “The Political Economy of Extractive Resources”

2012 – 2013

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Africa Department
Consultancy, Study: “Kenya’s Devolution in Action”


Universität Duisburg-Essen
Master-of-Arts in International Relations and Development Politics


Universität Duisburg-Essen
Bachelor-of-Arts in Political Science


The title of my PhD thesis is: “African states in the digital era: a comparative study of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia”

The thesis asks which new technologies are adopted in certain African country and why? As the Fourth Industrial Revolution sweeps across the world, its impact in Africa varies widely, depending on the country's societal and geographic amenities (structures), regime type (institutions), and leadership styles (agency). Hence, the Fourth Industrial Revolution looks differently in Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. All three countries are successfully utilising new technologies, but in distinctly different ways. My argument is that these differences can be traced back to differences in structure, institutions and leadership styles.

Methodologically, this research builds on an analysis of macro- and survey data, and on long-form interviews with key informants in the three countries.

In parallel to my PhD thesis, I investigate online labour in Africa: The Fourth Industrial Revolution is much more than ‘robots automating factory jobs.’ As the internet grows, so too does the platform economy. IT-enabled services exports – from software development to data entry to transcription – have long been practiced in India and the Philippines. But these and other online work tasks are now coming to African cities. This evolving eco-system of online workers is thus becoming interesting for African labour markets. My research examines these new forms online services exports. I ask

  • how fast the sector of online work is growing in Africa;
  • what types of new sub-sectors are emerging;
  • how sustainable online work is in the age of automation;
  • what types of online work clusters are emerging in African cities; and
  • how African governments and their development partners can support online work. For example:

    ► how to support women in online work;
    ► how to lower the entry barriers to online work;
    ► how to facilitate upward mobility towards more complex online work tasks;
    ► how to generate access to overseas demand for African online work;
    ► how to mitigate online crime to protect online workers;
    ► how to mitigate the exploitation of online workers in the Global South.

Methodologically, this research applies a mixed-methods design, involving survey data, semi-structured interviews via field work, and birds-eye level platform scrapes (in collaboration with colleagues at the Oxford Internet Institute)



► Melia, Elvis. 2016. The Political Economy of Extractive Resources. Bonn & Eschborn: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).


Articles in scientific journals and working papers (refereed*)

► Melia, Elvis. 2020. African jobs in the digital era: export options with a focus on online labour (Discussion Paper 3/2020). Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE). 

► Melia, Elvis. 2019. The impact of information and communication technologies on jobs in Africa: a literature review (Discussion Paper 3/2019). Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE).


Articles in edited volumes (refereed*)

► *Altenburg, Tilman & Elvis Melia. 2014. Kick-starting industrial transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa, in: José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs / Irmgard Nübler / Richard Kozul-Wright (eds), Transforming economies: making industrial policy work for growth, jobs and development, Geneva: International Labour Office, 355-378


Opinion pieces

► Zintl, Tina & Elvis Melia. 2020. Is the pandemic deepening the digital divide?
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), The Current Colum of 22 April 2020

► Melia, Elvis. 2013. Kenya’s Elections – No News is Good News! German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), The Current Column of 25 March 2013


Recent events, conferences & media

► 2020 (17 December) speaker at "Gig economy - a risk or chance in economic crises?" at GIZ Thementag 2020, Strengthening Resilience in Education and Employment: How to cope, adapt and grow in times of disruption? Competence Centre Education, Vocational Education and Training, Labour Markets, virtual event via MS Teams.

► 2020 (10 November) "Separately together: Online work in Kenya – an ecosystem of virtual SMEs?" working paper presented at Platform Economy Seminar Series, Oxford Internet Institute

► 2020 (9 October) featured in Deutsche Welle: “Berlin, Lagos, Budapest: How fast is your internet?” by Peter Hille et al.,

► 2020 (23 April, webinar) "African jobs in the digital era: Export options with a focus on online labour", presentation at "Let's WORK 4 (more & better) JOBS!", Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

► 2020 (17 February, Bonn) "Can online work become a major source of employment? Case study of Kenya", presented at "“Africa’s employment perspectives towards 2040” Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik / German Development Institute (DIE).

► 2019  (9 December, Berlin), discussant at Digital Kontrovers: Selbstregulierung oder staatliche Eingriffe?“ „Gig-Economy“ als Fluch oder Segen für den Globalen Süden, 12. Auflage des BMZ-Streitgesprächs Digital Kontrovers!

► 2019 (24 September, Kigali) "Pathways to an Inclusive Digital Transformation – Status-Quo and Outlook", presented at "The Impact of Digitalisation on Jobs", NEDA Conference, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

► 2019 (16 July, Addis Ababa) "The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Global trends and their implications for African development", presented at Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI), Ethiopia.

► 2019 (19 June, Brussels) discussant at "Promise or peril? Automation and the future of work in Africa Project or report lab on the challenges and opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution for jobs and inclusive economic growth in the region"  European Development Days 2019 (EDD19), European Commission.

► 2019 (10 May, Berlin) "Research findings on digital-era jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa", presented as a supplementary comment to ILO Report “Work for a brighter future” 2019, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

► 2019 (9 May, Berlin) "Mapping the territory of online work in Kenya, Elvis Melia, 9 May 2019" presented at "Research meets Practice: Tackling Unevenness in the Global Digital Economy", Humboldt Institut für Internet und Gesellschaft (HIIG).

► 2019 (28 March, Johannesburg) "Charting the sub-sectors of Kenyan online labour: Towards a services space map", presented at the "Digital Economy Africa Conference", STH University of Johannesburg, organised by Oxford Internet Institute. 



Summer Semester 2021

► BA-Seminar „The Global Knowledge Economy and African Workers in It“, [LSF] [Syllabus]

Winter Semester 2020/2021

► BA-Seminar “Peace, Conflict, and the Role of New Technologies in African Politics“ [LSF] 

Summer Semester 2020

► BA-Seminar “African Growth Governance for the 2020s,” University of Duisburg-Essen [LSF]