Impact of Remotasks’ Closure on Kenyan Workers

In March 2024, Remotasks shut down thousands of accounts of data workers in African countries. This collection of interviews highlights the struggles of these workers and discusses structural discrimination based on workers’ geographical location.

by Mophat Okinyi

My name is Mophat Okinyi and I’m a former Remotasks data worker in Nairobi, Kenya. I also worked as a content moderator and data labeler at Sama, experiencing firsthand the challenges faced by gig economy workers. The closure of Remotasks’ operations in Kenya has sparked significant concerns regarding the livelihoods of freelance workers in the country. This research aims to explore the experiences of these freelancers, digging deep into the challenges they faced, the impact of the closure on their lives, and their perceptions of the work itself. By understanding these dynamics, we can shed light on the broader implications of platform closures in the gig economy and inform strategies to support affected workers. My goal is to shed light on the struggles and injustices endured by my fellow workers and advocate for fair treatment and rights for all. In the following, I present audio testimonies that illustrate the situation of Remotasks workers like myself. I collected these testimonies by reaching out to affected workers, conducting interviews, and recording their personal accounts to provide an authentic and comprehensive view of their experiences.

In the digital age, the promise of remote work has offered a glimmer of hope for many seeking flexibility and opportunity. For the workers of Remotasks in Kenya, this promise quickly turned into a nightmare when the platform abruptly shuttered its operations, leaving them stranded without their hard-earned wages. Imagine you’re working hard from home, earning money to support yourself and your family. Then, out of nowhere, you’re told you can’t access the money you’ve earned. That’s exactly what happened to a group of people in Kenya who relied on Remotasks for their income. Here’s the full account of their harrowing journey through uncertainty and resilience.

It all started in December 2023 when AirTM, the trusted platform used by these workers to receive their earnings, dropped a bombshell. They announced through an email that they were investigating the money earned through Remotasks. Little did the workers know that this email would be the harbinger of a crisis that would upend their lives. Suddenly, workers found themselves unable to withdraw their hard-earned cash. For many, it was a devastating blow. Months of effort, late nights, and hard work seemed to vanish into thin air.

As weeks passed, the situation only worsened. AirTM sent out another email announcing that workers’ accounts were being frozen because of claims that funds from Remotasks were improperly obtained. Those funds were returned to Remotasks. Workers watched helplessly as their savings disappeared before their eyes. Then, to add insult to injury, Remotasks shut down workers’ accounts for good on March 9th, 2024. Overnight, workers found themselves locked out of their source of income, with no way to access the money they had rightfully earned.

The impact was immediate and severe. Chris, unable to afford his rent, was forced to seek shelter with a friend, and depended on other people to survive.

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→ Listen to how Chris describes his situation here

Ruth, who had been saving up for her newborn baby, saw her dreams dashed as her earnings were snatched away.

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→ Listen to Ruth’s story

And Victor, desperately needing money for his sick child’s medical bills, found himself at a loss with no funds to turn to.

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→ Listen to Victor’s interview

Understandably, the workers were furious. They felt betrayed and cheated, with their hard-earned money stolen right from under their noses. What’s worse, they were left in the dark about the closure, blindsided by the sudden loss of their livelihoods.

But the problems didn’t stop there. Even before the closure, workers had been grappling with issues like unfair pay, biased AI systems that evaluated the quality of their work, and a lack of support for their well-being. This toxic combination left them feeling undervalued and exploited.

Their resilience has shone through in the face of adversity. Despite the challenges they faced, these workers aren’t giving up without a fight. They’re demanding justice and calling for better regulations to protect workers in the gig economy. They are demanding that the funds unjustly taken from their AirTM accounts be refunded. They refuse to let others suffer the same fate they did, and their determination to make a change is unwavering.

As the dust settles on this chapter, one thing remains clear: the human toll of unchecked power and unbridled greed. These workers’ voices echo the hope for a brighter and more equitable future, one where the dignity of work is honored and the rights of workers are upheld. The story of these former Remotasks workers serves as a stark reminder of the harsh realities of the gig economy. It’s a tale of betrayal, loss, and resilience in the face of adversity. But above all, it’s a call to action to ensure that workers everywhere are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

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→ Listen to Faustine describe the lack of mental health support for data workers reviewing graphic content.
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→ Listen to Lawrence on price discrimination based on workers' geographical of mental health support for data workers reviewing graphic content.

Given these issues, we decided to create Techworker Community Africa (TCA), a non-profit organization that focuses on bridging technology, advocacy, and social impact. TCA aims to cultivate a robust tech industry in Africa by empowering, informing, and supporting tech and data training workers.

Recommended citation:

Okinyi, M. (2024). Impact of Remotasks Closure on Kenyan Workers [Edited by M. Miceli, A. Dinika, K. Kauffman, C. Salim Wagner, & L. Sachenbacher]. Retrieved from

About the Author

Mophat Okinyi

Mophat is an AI and human rights activist and union organizer dedicated to advocating for the fair treatment and rights of online content moderators, tech workers, and data training professionals. As the Founder & CEO of Techworker Community Africa, Mophat is passionate about ensuring that individuals in the tech industry are not treated as disposable backend labor. With a focus on upholding fundamental human rights and fostering an environment of equitable treatment, Mophat strives to create a future where technology benefits everyone, regardless of race or color. Additionally, Mophat has played a crucial role in training chatbots and language models, including the famous ChatGPT during its development stage.

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