African employees of Twitter victims of the takeover by Elon Musk

Barely arrived at the head of Twitter, Elon Musk began a wave of layoffs. This affected Africa. The majority of the social network’s African employees have been laid off.

It was the promise of unlimited freedom of expression. Last April, Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter for $44 billion. It took time for the operation to materialize. And as soon as the official buyout, the billionaire began a hell of a social plan: globally, he intends to cut around 50% of the company’s payroll, made up of 7,500 employees, to minimize losses.

In Africa, the earthquake very quickly made itself felt. Almost all staff in the Africa office, located in Accra, Ghana, have also been made redundant. It only took four days for the Africa office to empty. And like everywhere else, it was in difficult conditions that the employees were dismissed: on November 1, after returning to the office after a year of teleworking, the employees were, four days later, ousted.

The object of anger? An email sent to employees on their personal address. The message was clear: “The company is reorganizing its operations because of a need to cut costs. It is with regret that we inform you that your employment is terminated as a result of this exercise”. Employees will no longer be paid from December 4, even if they do not have to give notice.

According to RFI, the dismissal would be illegal. Because a company that dismisses its employees, in Ghana, must submit a written report to the Ministry of Employment three months before the social plan and provide financial compensation.

Beyond this redundancy operation, it is a message sent to Africa. A year and a half ago, Twitter was packing its bags in Ghana. “As a champion of democracy, Ghana is a supporter of freedom of expression, online freedom and the open internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate,” the company said.

A little over six months later, after a seven-month standoff between President Muhammadu Buhari and Twitter, Nigeria had agreed to lift the suspension of the social network, the leaders of the American network had then committed to open a local office in Nigeria.

For Africa, the signal sent is bad. Twitter and Facebook generally act unilaterally, and the opening of offices in Africa should make it possible to initiate a dialogue between African authorities and social networks. But Africa brings in much less than elsewhere, particularly in North America and Europe. Elon Musk does not seem to want to bet on the continent from which he nevertheless originates.

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