There are still no final payments for Jumia food delivery workers

Evans Kidia started working for Kenyan logistics company Tenadel in Nairobi in 2021. His job was delivering orders for Jumia Food, the food delivery app of Africa’s largest home-grown e-commerce company. At the end of each week, Kidia told a story Rest of the world, Tenadel’s management checked the amount he earned on the Jumia Food app and paid him after deducting commission.

The 43-year-old father of four worked in this arrangement for over two years – until December 2023, when Jumia ceased its food delivery operations in seven African countries, including Kenya.

The day the app was shut down, Kidii had some money left in his Jumia Food wallet but never received it. Five months later, Kidia has still not been able to recover the balance. He is in a special position because his money was retained on Jumia’s platform, but he was never directly involved with the company. He pursued his former manager at Tenadel, but it didn’t work. “We meet from time to time. I asked him about the balance but he didn’t respond,” Kidia said, adding that riders like him, hired specifically to deliver for Jumia Food, were laid off after the platform shut down.

Rest of the world I spoke to 12 former Jumia Food employees in Kenya and Nigeria who say they were not paid for the last weeks they worked with the app because it was suddenly disabled. Meanwhile, Jumia Food said Rest of the world paid all of its logistics partners the full amount it owed to delivery workers. This was announced by three former Jumia Food partners, including Tenadel Rest of the world in turn they paid all the riders.

“Jumia takes all financial obligations seriously,” a company spokesperson said in an email later on April 4 Rest of the world reported that the closure of Jumia Food in seven African markets resulted in employee abandonment. “All payments due to 3PLs (third party logistics providers) were made by Jumia prior to the closure of Jumia Food; this was to enable the 3PL to pay wages owed to suppliers. Furthermore, we have never received any complaints from suppliers who claimed they were not paid by their employer.

Jumia said it had more than 600 logistics partners before it shut down its food delivery business, but declined to provide an exact number of employees on the app, saying the number changes frequently.

In response to the April 4 story that several Jumia Food employees were not paid after it scaled back its operations, the company also said Rest of the world “did not directly employ most drivers.” But this was said by 31 former Jumia Food employees in Kenya and Nigeria Rest of the world they worked directly with the application, without the use of an external player. At least nine of these workers said they were not paid for their last week of work.

According to Obajere Emeshie, a former consultant at Fairwork, a research project at the Oxford Internet Institute, Jumia is responsible for the way it treats employees, even if they are employed by a partner.

“While third-party logistics companies are direct employers of some concert passengers, they operate within the framework provided by Jumia Food, which plays a key role in shaping working conditions (for these passengers),” Emeshie said Rest of the world. “Jumia Food also has a responsibility… It can create policies and guidelines that help mitigate unfair practices and ensure fair treatment of gig workers.”

“We anticipated the closure because we saw all the signs before it happened.”

Lagos-based IClass Logistics was one of Jumia Food’s logistics partners until the app was withdrawn from the market in December. CEO Rasheed Kayode said that at its peak, the company employed over 50 Jumia Food delivery workers Rest of the world. He said his company paid all employees before the app ceased operations.

“We anticipated the closure because we saw all the signs before it happened and we took a lot of internal risk measures,” Kayode said. “IClass Logistics did hold margin with Jumia and as per our agreement, account balancing takes place over a period of time. There may be cases where outstanding deposits are owed on both sides and the deposit is used to settle them. Therefore, it usually takes several weeks for the outstanding amount to balance against the security deposit we have with them.

said Tenadel managing director David Abwao Rest of the world his company also paid the entire amount to all Jumia Food employees. “I would like to hear from the passengers who said they did not receive their payment,” he said. “The only thing that would make sense is to know exactly the players who didn’t get the money.”

Ayoade Ibrahim, a digital work activist and co-founder of the Amalgamated Association of App-based Transporters of Nigeria, said Rest of the world the contracts signed by Jumia Food and its partners with gig workers are not transparent, leaving workers vulnerable.

“In a partnership, you have the right to know when the company is doing well and when it’s not doing well,” Ibrahim said. “That is not the case here. Even if the riders work directly with them, they just dismiss them… Look now, they don’t call them employees and don’t treat them as partners. You just use them.”

Some suppliers who worked directly with Jumia Food also said they were not paid for their last week of work. “The company has an outstanding balance totaling about 5,000 shillings ($38),” said Wellington Ekabi, a gig worker from Nairobi Rest of the world. “I tried to contact them but to no avail.” Ekabi worked with Jumia Food for four years until it closed down.

Opeyemi Moses, who has worked directly with Jumia Food in Lagos for close to two years, said Rest of the world he is trying to recover the over 30,000 naira ($22) the company owes him.

“I lost hope in them,” he said.