“The sun could rise again on Twitter Africa if, somehow, Musk gains the knowledge and humility needed to run a global media platform. But don’t hold your breath—all of this started as a $150 million weed joke and it could get worse”
PEGASUS REPORTERS, LAGOS | NOVEMBER 13, 2022
Elon Musk’s first acts as Twitter’s owner included impulsive account suspensions and insisting everyone pays $8 for a blue checkmark, going against the ethos of what being verified means. But the most shocking events of the new regime so far remain the massive staff layoffs, which also affected the barely one-year-old Africa team.
Twitter announced the opening of its first Africa office in April last year because then CEO Jack Dorsey believed Twitter could help shape African democracy. Ghana was the take-off point, although those employed worked remotely. This month, staff converged in Accra to mark the opening of their physical office, but the enthusiasm was short lived.
Musk’s Twitter told its Africa team that their services were no longer needed because “the company is reorganizing its operations as a result of a need to reduce costs,” as CNN reported. Up to half the team was dismissed on Nov. 4, according to TechCabal. As it happened to their colleagues in the US, staff in Ghana also reported being locked out of emails and receiving zero communication around severance.
More urgent problems at Twitter, like the recent departures of senior veterans responsible for privacy, and security on the platform, downplay the gravity of the African layoffs. The imminent end of the Africa team leaves a lingering suspicion that it was a vanity project for the company all along. It’s an opportunity to look back at other Big Tech office openings in Africa to determine whether they too are only on the continent for a good time and not a long time.
The sun could rise again on Twitter Africa if, somehow, Musk gains the knowledge and humility needed to run a global media platform. But don’t hold your breath—all of this started as a $150 million weed joke and it could get worse.
SOURCE: Quartz Africa
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