Victoria from Techpoint here,
Here's what I've got for you today:
- MultiChoice settles ₦1.8 trillion tax bill
- Court blocks Wasoko's plan to layoff nine staff
- Ethiopia to ban fuel and diesel cars
MultiChoice settles ₦1.8 trillion tax bill
Remember in 2021, Nigeria's tax collector probed MultiChoice for possible ₦1.8 trillion in tax fraud? Well, there’s a fresh update on that after almost three years.
MultiChoice has agreed to settle with the Nigerian tax authority for ₦35.4 billion, or approximately R475 million. The Nigerian Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) initially claimed the company owed ₦1.8 trillion in back taxes (equivalent to R63 billion then).
But by February 1, 2024, that figure had dropped to R37.8 billion and is now even lower, at R24.2 billion. What a wild ride for the currency!
This saga began in July 2021, when the FIRS froze MultiChoice's bank accounts, alleging it had not paid VAT since its launch in the country.
In March 2022, MultiChoice reached a friendly agreement with the Nigerian Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), agreeing to drop all legal battles.
The deal? The company would undergo a Forensic Systems Audit to figure out its tax bill, which was expected to wrap up quickly.
Be the smartest in the room
Back to the beginning: MultiChoice has now revealed the audit results and the status of settlement talks with FIRS. They’ve agreed, ending all disputes.
Court blocks Wasoko's plan to layoff nine staff
Remember this? Wasoko and MaxAB to slash their workforce
Quick recap: In January 2024, Wasoko, a Kenyan eCommerce startup, and MaxAB, an Egyptian company, disclosed plans to give about 10% of their combined 4,000 employees the boot.
This news came after they announced in December 2023 that they were discussing a merger to serve 65 million customers in eight African markets.
Fast forward to February 2024, and things hit a snag for Wasoko. A Kenyan court slammed the brakes on its plans to lay off nine employees, throwing a wrench in its merger with MaxAB.
The nine employees, who handle fast-moving consumer goods, are crying foul, saying Wasoko didn't properly talk to them or look at other options before swinging the axe.
They claim Wasoko simply threw around terms like "change in business environment" and "reorganisation" without providing solid evidence or attempting to find them another gig within the organisation.
On January 31, Judge Nzioki wa Makau agreed with the employees and issued interim orders, putting their dismissals on hold. Interestingly, the decision got extended on February 5, with a proper hearing set for February 13 to sort out the whole legality mess.
However, Wasoko's pushing back, saying the employees' gripes don't hold water, and the court's jumping the gun. It argues it followed all the rules and offered alternatives, but none stuck.
Besides, the startup — through its legal reps at MW & Company Advocates — is saying that the whole court thing is premature because the employees haven't even proven they'll suffer irreparable harm if they get the boot.
To summarise, Wasoko says, "We’ve done everything by the book. Case closed."
Ethiopia to ban fuel and diesel cars
The Ethiopian Transport and Logistics Minister, Alemu Sime, recently said the country is going all-in on electric vehicles! Yeah, it’s banning fuel and diesel cars from entering the country. Talk about bold moves, right?
Sime spilled the beans during a presentation to the Urban Development and Transport Standing Committee in the Ethiopian Parliament. He also talked about the Logistics Master Plan the ministry has cooked up, focusing on making Ethiopia a green transport hub.
The country intends to begin cracking down on fossil-fuel cars with stringent smoke tests. Fail the test, and your car's off the Ethiopian streets!
The country is also hustling to set up charging stations in Ethiopia for these electric whips. Plus, it’s cutting some serious slack on taxes for EVs.
Why the move? In 2023, Ethiopia spent €6 billion ($7.6 billion) on petrol and diesel imports. Plus, pollution levels in the cities are sky-high due to these gas guzzlers.
This announcement has sparked discussion, especially since it is part of Ethiopia's ambitious green plan for the next decade. The government plans to bring in over 152,000 electric cars by 2030. However, it currently has about 7,200 EVs out of 1.2 million cars on the road.
Nonetheless, there are still some unanswered questions. For example, when's this ban kicking in? What about all those fossil-fuel cars already on the road?
Not to mention the big question in the room: how will the average Ethiopian afford these posh electric rides?
As of 2021, 68.7% of people in Ethiopia, or 82.6 million, were dealing with multidimensional poverty. And on top of that, another 18.4%, or roughly 22.1 million people, were teetering on the edge, classified as vulnerable to facing the same struggles.
In case you missed it
- Google's Bard rebrands to Gemini, launches premium offering to rival ChatGPT
- Absa Bank introduces a new wallet for WhatsApp banking in South Africa
- Airtel Nigeria and IHS Nigeria deepen partnership for tower expansion
- SA court orders Vodacom to compensate 'Please Call Me' creator within 30 days
- Africa is considering implementing a single emergency number for disasters
What I'm reading and watching
- FCC officially declares AI-voiced robocalls illegal
- How People Construct Religions
- The Two Congos: Why Africa Has Two Congo Countries With A HUGE Population Difference
- Application for the Innovest Afrika accelerator programme is open. Apply by February 14, 2024, here.
- Kenyan startups focused on embedded finance, future fintech, SME productivity tools, and content like local gaming and mobile advertising can apply for Safaricom’s Spark Accelerator programme. For more information, check this out.
- The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) is looking for an editor to support the Arthur F. Burns Fellowship. Apply here.
- Application for the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) Class of 2025 is now open. Check out the one-year, fully sponsored, graduate-level programme in tech entrepreneurship here before March 18, 2023.
- Do you live in Nigeria and work with a local or foreign company? Whether it's remotely, on-site, hybrid, full-time, part-time or as a freelancer, @TheIntelpoint is trying to understand the Nigerian workspace: how you work, and toxicity in the workspace among others. Please, fill out the questionnaire here.
- Explore this website to find multiple job opportunities in Data that align with your preferences.
- If you are a software engineer, creative designer, product manager, design researcher, or a techie looking for an internship role, please, check out this website.
Have a good tme this weekend!
Victoria Fakiya for Techpoint Africa.