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Twitter ignores laid-off African team
Some members of Twitter team in Africa
Seven months after being laid off from Twitter, the big tech’s African ex-team is yet to receive any severance from the company.
ICYMI: In November/December 2022, Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover led to the firing of more than half of Twitter’s 8,000-strong workforce, including all members of its nascent African team.
The team, headquartered in Ghana, had announced the launch of a new office a week prior to their layoffs. While teams across other continents received—in emails informing them of their layoffs—emails to the Twitter Africa team included no details on severance packages. All requests to the Twitter headquarters were also not responded to.
At the time, CNN reported that the team was considering legal action against Twitter for violating Ghanaian labour laws.
Seven months, no severance: Now, seven months later, BBC has confirmed that the team is yet to receive any severance. While lawyers representing the team were in contact with Twitter up until May 2023, they now report that Twitter has stopped responding, just right when discussions were almost concluded.
The lawyers are now considering other options that could help the ex-Twitter Africa team get justice.
Twitter’s dim picture: Across Europe and America, the same story is hitting several ex-employees at Twitter. Last week, in the US, the company was hit with a lawsuit that alleges it owes $500 million in severance payments to laid-off employees in the US.
In more news about its money problems, the company was also hit with an eviction notice from its headquarters due to failure to pay rent.
Last week, CTO Elon Musk revealed that the company had lost half of its advertising revenue since the takeover and is in “heavy debt”.
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Ride-hailing drivers in South Africa threaten shutdown
Image source: YungNolly
Yesterday, ride-hailing drivers in South Africa threatened to shut down operations.
What’s wrong? The ride-hailing drivers are demanding actions on safety issues like hijacking, illegal vehicle impoundment, and harassment from taxi drivers. They are also advocating for industry regulations and a decrease in companies’ “excessively high” commissions.
Drivers do not have a say: Thato Ramaila, the Soweto United E-hailing Association Chairperson, alleges that ride-hailing companies enforce a “ridiculous” 30% commission on drivers’ earnings without negotiating with them.
However, Vhatuka Mbelengwa, the Private Public Transport Association spokesperson, believes that while there might be a service reduction, a complete shutdown of ride-hailing apps is unlikely.
Mbelengwa also underscores the probability of possible disruptions and advises South Africans who plan to use the apps to exercise caution.
Zoom out: This isn’t the first time ride-hailing drivers have gone on strike in South Africa. In 2020, Uber and Bolt temporarily stopped operations due to high commission rates, which resulted in lower income and safety concerns for drivers. The drivers also went on several strikes between 2021 and 2022 to protest several issues including drivers’ safety after one young Bolt driver was murdered in Pretoria.
Food takes the cake of inflation: In June 2023, food inflation reached a staggering 11.81%. Housing, water, electricity, and fuel are trailing behind it with a 3.81% increase, while clothing and footwear made a modest rise of 1.74%. Transport joined the party with a 1.48% surge, among other factors that added to the mix.
Differing inflation among states: Lagos state stands out with the highest rate at 25.75%. Following closely behind are Ondo at 25.40% and Kogi at 25.23%. On the other hand, Borno exhibits a comparatively slower rate of 20.44%, while Zamfara and Ekiti record rates of 20.93% and 21.06% respectively.
Zoom out: The inflation figures are breaking a 7-year record but experts think it could have been worse. Global Chief Economist, Renaissance Capital, Charles Robertson, notes that the inflation data is good news that inflation is only 22.8% YoY, despite the official FX rate devaluation from roughly NGN460/$ to closer to NGN800/$.
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Telkom plans to sell its tower portfolio
Image source: Telkom
South Africa’s biggest Internet Service Provider (ISP), Telkom, has plans to sell its Swiftnet tower.
Swiftnet, which owns more than 4,000 towers, houses the masts and towers portfolio and is expected to be sold within the next two months.
Plans on investment: According to CEO Serame Taukobong, part of the money from the Swiftnet sale will contribute to the company’s “negative free cash flow” and allocate additional investment in capital expenditures (capex) for their fibre business.
Taukobong also stated that Telkom’s tower portfolio has two solid bidders. Additionally, in February, Bloomberg reported that New York-listed IHS Holding was considering making a bid for Telkom’s tower unit.
Zoom out: Telkom is open to offers from other companies and there is no guarantee that IHS will acquire the unit. According to Nedbank Group Ltd., the Swiftnet business is valued at approximately R8.7 billion ($482 million) based on anticipated future cash flows.
The World Wide Web3
* Data as of 23:20 PM WAT, July 17, 2023.
Crypto exchange Binance has laid off 1,000 employees.
Word on the street is that an additional 1,500 to 3,000 employees could be let go by the end of the year. This firing which Binance terms as an involuntary layoff is one of its reactions to the economic turbulence and legal battles it is currently facing.
What legal battles? Binance.US, the American counterpart of the popular global cryptocurrency exchange, made headlines last month when it temporarily suspended USD deposits and put a halt to fiat (USD) withdrawal channels. The suspension came in response to an emergency order issued by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to freeze Binance.US assets.
This move followed accusations by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in March, which alleged trading violations against Binance Holdings and its CEO, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao. The company has been investigated for alleged involvement in money laundering schemes.
The increased scrutiny and regulatory pressure have already led Binance to exit the Canadian market in May. However, for its 670,000 U.S. users, there are no clear indications that Binance.US will be leaving anytime soon. The situation remains uncertain as the exchange navigates the regulatory landscape and addresses the concerns raised by the authorities.
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