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Facebook’s African content moderation partner, Sama, quits amidst court battles

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Facebook’s African content moderation partners, Sama, has announced that it has pulled out of an existing content review services to focus on data annotation, the company announced on Friday.

The Kenya-based Sama has been bugged down with several law suits involving a number of its former staff members especially in South Africa who sued the company over including poor remuneration and mental health issues.

Prominent among the cases was the one filed last year by Daniel Motaung, a South African national and ex-Sama content moderator, who accused it and Facebook parent company, Meta, of forced labor, human trafficking, unfair labor relations, union busting, and failure to provide adequate mental health and psychosocial support.

A spokesperson from Meta confirmed the end of the contract with Sama in a statement which reads:

“We respect Sama’s decision to exit the content review services it provides to social media platforms.

“We’ll work with our partners during this transition to ensure there’s no impact on our ability to review content.”

The company also encouraged its staff to apply for other job opportunities in its Kenya and Uganda offices while stating that affected staff will be accorded severance packages and well-being support for 12 months after their last day of employment.

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Airtel Africa declares $523 million nine-month net profit

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One of Africa’s biggest mobile network operators, Airtel Africa, had declared a profit of $523 million over a nine months period ending December 31, 2022.

The profit margin, according to a financial report released by the company, showed a 12.1% increase from $514 million during the same period the previous year.

The report further stated that the company’s mobile services revenue in Nigeria grew by 20.9 percent, while East African revenue increased by 11.9 percent, just as 11.8 percent was recorded in Francophone Africa.

Revenue from voice services from its African operations increased by 12.7% while data recorded a revenue rise of 22.3%.

The company’s mobile money service recorded a 29.8% growth, largely attributed to a 32.5% growth in East Africa and 21.7% in the Francophone Africa market.

The financial report released by the Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Africa, Segun Ogunsanya, also said company’s total customer base increased to $138.5 million, up by 10.1 per cent, with the company saying it spent $490 million over the last nine months on its 4G and 5G spectrum across key markets to improve quality.

“The company’s total customer base increased by 10.1% to hit 138.5 million as the penetration of mobile data and mobile money services continued to rise, driving the data customer base up 13.6 percent and mobile money customer base up 22.2 percent,” the report said.

“Providing affordable, innovative, and essential services to customers in our 14 markets with unparalleled network quality and customer service is integral to our ambition of transforming lives across Africa.”

“Over the last nine months we have spent almost $490 million on 4G and 5G spectrum across key markets to improve network capacity and quality, future-proof the company for continued growth opportunities, and facilitate economic progress in all our markets,” Ogunsanya said.

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Kenyan judge rules Meta can be sued in local courts for rights violations

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A Labour Court in Kenya has ruled that Facebook’s parent company, Meta, can be sued in the East African country, following a suit filed by a former Facebook moderator, Daniel Motaung, claiming poor working conditions.

Meta had, in a counter suit, tried to have the case dropped, with the argument that Kenyan courts do not have jurisdiction over their operations.

The social media company had argued that while it has operations in Kenya, it’s a foreign company and its contracts with Sama don’t make it susceptible to Kenyan laws.

But while delivering judgement on the case on Monday, the Labour Court judge, Justice Jacob Gakeri, dismissed its appeal and insisted that Kenyan courts can rule on the case.

In the originating suit, Motaung, a South African national, had alleged that Meta and its local outsourcing partner, Sama, had exposed him and his colleagues to “toxic” work conditions while they were contracted to work as content moderators.

Matuong had claimed that he was subjected to “forced labor, exploitation, human trafficking, unfair labor relations, union busting, and failure to provide adequate mental health and psychosocial support” by Facebook and its parent company.

In his ruling, Justice Gakeri said:

“The second and third respondents’ names, Meta Platforms Inc and Meta platforms Ireland Ltd, shall not be struck out at this stage.”

The case between Motaung and Meta is due for further determination in early March.

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