A week after eccentric billionaire Elon Musk completed his seven-month-long takeover of Twitter, the company has laid off a significant chunk of its workforce.
According to The New York Times, half of Twitter’s 7,500 workforce was let go, and the social media company’s newer Africa team was affected too.
Last year, Twitter opened up its first Africa office in Ghana where a 20-person team was instituted to help the company drive conversations across Africa’s diverse regions. Now, members of the Africa team have been laid off according to sources close to the issue.
Senior partnership officer Bernard Kafiu Sokpe, popularly known as Mistameister, tweeted a farewell message on Friday morning.
Although TechCabal cannot confirm the number of Twitter employees on the continent that were let go, a source said the number could be as high as half of the team.
Employees at Twitter’s Africa office who received the Friday email, which notified employees of the impending layoffs, through their personal emails are still confused about the status of their employment as the emails say they are “suspended”. “For the avoidance of doubt, this suspension does not mean your employment has been terminated,” a part of the email read.
In a tweet, newly-minted CEO and Twitter owner Elon Musk tweeted that every employee affected by the payroll would be offered three months of severance, “…which is 50% more than what is legally required.”
Zoom out: Meanwhile, affected employees across the world are not taking the layoffs lying down. Across the US and Ireland, employees are suing Musk and Twitter for failing to give appropriate notice of termination. Meanwhile, advertisers like Volkswagen are reportedly boycotting Twitter in response to the rapid changes Musk has made…and musk is not masking his displeasure about it.
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MTN is nearing the completion of its exit from the Middle East.
In 2020, MTN announced its exit plan from the Middle East to focus on its African operations as part of efforts to simplify its structure and reduce exposure in riskier markets.
At the time, the MTN Group attributed the exit to the increasing complexity of operating in the region, following the US sanctions on Iran and the growing troubles in Afghanistan. Shortly after, the company sold its business in Yemen, and halted operations in Syria and Afghanistan.
Earlier this year, in August 2022, the telco received a $35 million binding offer from an undisclosed buyer for its Afghanistan business. On Friday, the telco finally announced that it had sold the business to Beirut-based investment company M1 New Ventures.
MTN Group CEO Ralph Mupita stated that the gross sum of $35 million would be paid over a period of time and that proceeds would be $31 million.
Before its exit, MTN led the telco market in Afghanistan with 40% of the market share. Its exit is exacerbated by the Taliban’s overthrow of the Afghan government in 2021 which has made it difficult for foreign and local businesses to operate.
Over the years, fintech MFS Africa has acquired infamy for being Africa’s largest interoperability hub. It’s achieved this status by acquiring a number of startups—three on-continent startups, and one off-continent one.
Last week, MFS Africa acquired a few new things: three payment licences in Uganda.
On Friday, the Central Bank of Uganda approved the PSP (Payment Service Provider), PSO (Payment Systems Operator), and IPI (Issuer of a Payment Instrument) licences for the company.
What does this mean for MFS Africa?
Now the startup will be able to extend its offerings in Uganda.
The PSO licence authorises the company to offer cashless transactions while the PSP licence allows the company accept cash deposits or withdrawals, and execute payment transactions. The IPI licence allows the company offer its users instruments like cheques and credit/debit cards which MFS Africa will use through its flagship product Beyonic.
Doreen Lukandwa, VP of Global Enterprises at MFS Africa said, “This milestone symbolises our commitment to securing the necessary regulatory oversight designed to protect the interests of enterprises and other partners who serve consumers in Uganda.”
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The last two years were the best of times for African startups chasing venture capital.
After raising $1.43 billion in 2020, VC funding reached an all-time high of over $5 billion in 2021. Between 2020 and 2021, fundraising among African startups was twice that of the global average. But confirmatory data from The Big Deal reveals that the first half of 2022 was a record breaker, with funding for African startups topping $3 billion in the first six months of the year.
The pandemic outbreak amplified the opportunity for founders to birth new businesses amidst a shift to an internet-dominated world. The rise in consumer spending, the increasing use of digital services, and a digitally savvy young population proved an alluring proposition.
This masked the fundamental challenges facing the continent’s digital economy. Key human indicators like basic internet usage and access to electricity remained below global averages despite the improvement within the decade.
With a global economic recession on the horizon, the tides have changed, and funding has slowed down in the year’s second half. This is coming on the back of interest rate hikes by central banks of many western economies to curb rising inflation, thus reducing the amount of funding available to emerging markets.
The result is a more challenging environment for startups seeking to raise funds. Due diligence has become stricter while valuations are now becoming critically assessed. For African startups to weather the storm, it’s essential to focus on the fundamentals and ensure that their unit economics are right, thereby reducing cash burn rate and extending run time. Fundraising may be an essential signal for future potential, but it isn’t the sole determinant for startup success.
It may be time for African startups to seek funding from local sources, and focus on building only fundamentals for the future they envision.
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EVENT: AFRICA TECH FESTIVAL
From November 7–11, TechCabal will be at the Africa Tech Festival in Cape Town, South Africa. Attendees and speakers include Big Cabal Media CEO Tomiwa Aladekomo, TechCabal’s Head of Newsroom Morris Kiruga, and several members of the TechCabal team.
The five-day in-person event will cover the topics shaping Africa’s present and future, including our awards ceremony and famous Afest, “Africa’s best party.”
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