International

Twitter lays off staff at its only Africa office in Ghana

Nkechi Ogbonna - West Africa business reporter, BBC Africa

Twitter has fired nearly all its staff in Ghana, which was home to its only office in Africa.

The firm “is re-organising its operations as a result of a need to reduce costs,” read Twitter’s email, seen by the BBC.

The layoffs were part of a global staff cull introduced by new boss Elon Musk.

The Ghana office was opened to some fanfare last year with the company saying it wanted to be more “immersed” in African conversations.

Ghana staff were sent messages about the end of their contracts to their personal accounts, after being denied access to work emails.

“It’s very insulting,” one person who wanted to stay anonymous told the BBC.

“From the mail to the lack of next steps to the tone of the letter. Just everything. Ridiculously insulting,” the staff member continued.

There were just under 20 people employed in Ghana’s Twitter office, the BBC understands.

The termination of employment notice indicates that the “last day of employment will be 4 December 2022”.

This move is against local labour laws which state that employers must give employees at least three months’ notice before the termination of contract date.

It is also against the law in Ghana to not offer redundancy pay, which the anonymous staff members said they have not received, but will get their normal salary.

The letter from Twitter’s management further warned staff not to “contact or deal with any customers, clients, authorities, banks, suppliers or other employees of the Company and are required to inform the Company if contacted”.

It also told staff not to commence any other employment or engagement until their last day with the organisation, while wishing them the very best in their future endeavours.

Mr Musk, Twitter’s new owner, has been laying off staff worldwide. He said he had “no choice” but to slash the company’s workforce as the firm was losing more than $4m (£3.5m) a day.

Last year, Twitter announced it was opening its first Africa office in Ghana in a bid to “be more immersed in the rich and vibrant communities that drive the conversations taking place every day across the African continent”, it said in an April 2021 statement.

At the time, Twitter had praised Ghana for “free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet” with the news even being welcomed by Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo who described it as “excellent”.

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