This week the world’s brightest minds, innovators, and leading startups will gather in Paris for Viva Tech 2022, Europe’s biggest startup and tech event.
Our Senior Reporter, Daniel Adeyemi will be on ground to keep you abreast of conversations and insights from the event.
Our first stop later today will be Station F—the world’s largest startup incubator—where 25 of the best African tech startups will be on the showcase and taking part in AfricArena’s first conference in Europe.
We’d also like to meet startup founders, investors, executives, policymakers, the whole nine yards. Who should we be talking to in Paris?
In today’s edition
The fight against Kenya’s ICT Practioners Bill
Lagos plans to domesticate the Nigeria Startup Bill
Meta wants its Kenyan case thrown out of court
Google to pay $118 million for gender discrimination
* Data as of 08:50 PM WAT, June 13, 2022.
It’s been 18 months since we’ve seen bitcoin prices this low. Last night, bitcoin fell below $24,000; the last time it did that was in December 2020.
Crypto prices have been low all quarter but this week brought the lowest we’ve seen in a while. According to experts, the recent drop results from a compounding sequence of events including a crypto dump by short-term investors, the Russo-Ukrainian war, China’s ban on crypto, and more recently the US’ decision to create policies and strategies for regulating crypto.
Don’t panic though. It’s like they say, dips endureth for a while but profit only comes with mourning.👌🏿
If you don’t, here’s a quick breakdown. Kenya’s ICT Practitioners Bill requires that all persons in Kenya’s tech sector from software engineers to data scientists, to apply for a license before they can work in tech in Kenya. Last week, the Parliament passed the bill and all that’s left before the bill becomes law is President Uhuru Kenyatta’s assent.
Well, there’s an update.
Kenya’s ICT Cabinet Secretary Joseph Mucheru is opposing the controversial ICT Practitioners Bill. The head of the sector is basically telling the world what all techies have been saying all year: the bill is retrogressive and Kenya doesn’t need it.
“This ICT Bill is a private member’s bill,” he said. “As a ministry, we continuously fought against this bill in its various forms.”
This makes sense because the bill was initially proposed by Parliament Member Godfrey Osotsi, who is the CEO and director at Businet Systems Ltd, a firm that provides ICT training and consultancy services in Kenya. Osotsi and his fellow supporters are supposedly supporting the bill because it’ll bring “professionalism” and “standardisation” to Kenya’s tech space but it just appears that everyone is trying to get a slice of the tech pie. 🌚
Presidential candidate Raila Odinga has also thrown his weight against the bill, saying, “I find the move to regulate ICT Practitioners impractically and counter-productive. It negates the goals and visions of the National ICT Policy and Digital Strategies.”
Both dissidents join tech workers in the country who are sure that the bill will bring nothing but trouble and stagnation to a booming industry.
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While the Nigerian Parliament drags its feet behind enacting the Bill, the state announced that it will adopt the bill to accelerate startup growth in its ecosystem.
The announcement was made by Lagos state government Special Adviser on Innovation and Technology, Tunbosun Alake, at the Co-Create 2022 tech expo.
Nigeria operates a federal system where laws enacted by the National House of Assembly have to be adopted by each state before they can be enforced in those states. This means that if the Bill is eventually passed by the Nigerian Parliament, Lagos State will already be a step ahead with its plans for domestication.
Alake also announced that Lagos—through the Lagos State Science, Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC)—had awarded over 60 startups with funds ranging from $9,000 to $12,000.
META WANTS CASE IN KENYAN COURT THROWN OUT
In May, we informed you that Facebook is being sued in Kenya by a former employee over claims of exploitation and union-busting. Now, the tech giant wants the case dropped on the basis that Kenyan courts don’t have the authority to hear and judge the case.
Facebook’s parent company Meta filed an application that says that its incorporated establishments Meta Platforms, Inc. and Meta Platforms Ireland—are foreign corporations which are not resident, domiciled or trading in Kenya. On that basis, it argues that the Kenyan High court has no jurisdiction over them.
To determine whether this defence holds water, a jurisdiction case will be heard before the main lawsuit can commence. The next hearing is set for June 27.
In the application, Meta also pointed out that the ex-employee who was a moderator had signed a non-disclosure agreement which prevents them from issuing evidence against the company. All moderators sign this agreement before employment.
The employment was carried out by Sama, Facebook’s main subcontractor for content moderation in Africa. In the lawsuit, Sama is accused, alongside Facebook of enabling a toxic work environment for moderators whose work was to view and remove perpetuates hateful, misleading and violent social media posts on all its platforms.
Allegedly, Sama used Meta’s software to abusively track employee screen time and movement during work hours whilst not giving them adequate mental health support.
At least two Sama moderators resigned after being diagnosed with mental health issues like PTSD and depression, but Sama claims it has done no wrong.
With Meta’s application, the lawsuit might be dismissed unless the Kenyan court proves that it does have the right to try Meta over these allegations. It also opens up conversations for the registration of social media companies in countries they operate and profit from.
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GOOGLE TO PAY $118 MILLION FOR GENDER DISCRIMINATION
In the lastest of its legal woes, Google is set to pay $118 million to settle a lawsuit that accused it of underpaying women. The settlement covers about 15,500 women employed in California by Google in 236 different job titles since September 14, 2013.
After the approval of the settlement by a judge, the company is also obligated to invite external labour economists to review its pay practices for 3 years.
What’s wrong with Google’s pay practices?
In 2017, three women filed a complaint accusing the company of underpaying female workers, citing a wage gap of about $17,000.
Google was also accused of assigning women to employment positions lower than those of men of similar or lower qualifications. Apparently, these assignments set said women on undeservedly lower career paths. Such paths led to pay and bonuses that are comparably lower than that of their male peers.
The complaint led to a lawsuit that same year and the plaintiffs won class-action status last year. Class-action status allowed them to prosecute the lawsuit on behalf of all the affected 15,500 women who will receive said settlement from Google.
Google’s commitment to doing better
At the resolution of the issue, Google affirmed that it’s “absolutely committed to paying, hiring and levelling all employees fairly and equally”, and that it makes “upward adjustments” if it finds a pay disparity between male and female employees.
The litigation lasted for 5 years and the settlement was reached without Google admitting that it was guilty.
This is not the first time Google is paying to settle a discrimination lawsuit. In February 2021, Google paid $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit claiming that the company disadvantaged both female and Asian applicants. The company is also reportedly under investigation regarding harassment against Black female employees.
Other big tech firms like Oracle are also under fire regarding discrimination. A significant number of them are yet to receive class-action status as this one did.
However, the settlement by Google still needs to be approved by a judge and a preliminary approval hearing will be held on June 21.
EXPLORE VIVA TECHNOLOGY
Europe’s biggest start-up and tech event is back! Viva Technology brings together start-ups, CEOs, investors, global tech actors, and well-pronounced speakers. It will take place on June 15-18, in Paris.
Substack’s Sound of Summer Workshop is now open to applications from podcasters, audio creators, musicians, and sound-obsessed Substack writers. Selected writers will attend a month-long workshop, learning storytelling, production and editorial strategies from the Substack team. They’ll also receive a $1,000 stipend, production-enhancing audio services, essential gear, and tailored guidance. Apply.
The Last Mile Money Startup Accelerator is now open to ventures working at the intersection of last-mile users and financial empowerment. Selected startups will receive design support, access to Last Mile Money’s network, and up to $50,000 in equity-free grants. See what’s up.
The Nigeria Youth Futures Fund (NYFF) Young Leaders Development Fund 2022 is open to applications from young changemakers with experience in media, health, environment, civic participation, education, security, and ICT. Apply for the chance to get up to $40,000 in grants. Check it out.