In what has been termed one of the most reckless takeovers in tech history, Elon Musk has sacked almost all of Twitter’s African staff in Ghana, just 3 days after the physical office opened for the first time.
Just a year and a half ago, there was much jubilee over the announcement of Twitter’s first Africa office in Accra, Ghana. For many Africans, this was a much-appreciated acknowledgement of our very vibrant presence on the social media platform. Ghana was said to be chosen because of its dealings with AfCFTA – the African Continental Free Trade Area which is also headquartered in Accra – and its openness towards the internet, particularly the freedom of expression championed on its online space.
CNN correspondent Larry Madowo from Johannesburg reported, “On Tuesday, after working remotely for about a year, Twitter’s African staff in Ghana finally opened the physical location. On Friday morning, they were logged out of their (official) email accounts and their work laptops stopped working. They then received email notifications on their personal email accounts that they were getting terminated.”
Madowo went on to read part of the termination notice CNN received from Twitter’s director of people services in Dublin, Ireland:
“The company is reorganizing its operations as a result of a need to reduce costs. It is with regret that we’re writing to inform you that your employment is terminating as a result of this exercise. Your last day of employment will be 4th December, 2022. You will be placed on garden leave until your termination date.”
This means the employees will continue to receive remuneration and benefits till December, but will not be perform any official duties or communicate with any colleague, client or supplier in an official capacity. They will also be required to remain at Twitter’s disposal in case a proper handover needs to be carried out.
The email notice was extremely impersonal, reading like a memo addressed to no one in particular – no names were mentioned.
In the US, Elon Musk said everyone getting fired would get 3 month-severance packages, but there was no mention of that or any next steps for the Africa office. Consequently, some Ghanaian lawyers believe this could be an unlawful termination, meaning several lawsuits could be brewing.
The number of laid off staff is not confirmed at this time, but Nairametrics earlier reported that Twitter planned to fire about 3,700 of its workforce.
Among the fired staff is Bernard Kafui Sokpe, a Ghanaian man who served as the Senior Partner Manager, responsible for forging and overseeing partnerships for the social media platform locally.
In a tweet he shared on November 4, Sokpe said, “It’s been a year working at a place I never imagined I’ll ever get to work. I’m glad that I could represent Africa & I didn’t let us down. My best career experience by far & it was beautiful whilst it lasted. Much love to all the amazing tweeps that made it worth it.”
While some African employees, like Sokpe, expressed gratitude for having been able to work for one of the world’s leading social media platforms in the first place, many have lambasted the brashness of the mass termination, especially with such short notice.
Worldwide, Twitter reportedly laid off almost 50% of its staff. In the US alone, a class-action lawsuit is already in the works