Earlier this year, Microsoft announced it would cut 10,000 jobs to “align our cost structure with our revenue and where we see customer demand.” While most job cuts have happened in Seattle, Washington, where Microsoft is headquartered, Kenya is the first African country to experience layoffs.
According to Edward Ochieng, the CTO of Sklylab Systems, Microsoft’s Africa Development Centre (ADC), mentioned in a tweet on Tuesday, has also been impacted by the layoffs. In 2019, Microsoft established ADC branches in Kenya and Nigeria, describing the move as a long-term investment with a commitment of $100 million over the following five years. The Lagos branch added a new building the previous year.
By June 2022, Microsoft had recruited over 500 developers, most of whom came from nearby tech companies. However, the multinational corporation reportedly let go of some developers in Kenya, as indicated by several LinkedIn entries from former workers.
One affected employee, Kipkorir Arap Kirui, wrote on LinkedIn after a meeting with his engineering colleagues, “Last Monday appeared like just another Monday, but then I found a meeting invite from my manager in my inbox. We had missed our connection the week before, so it didn’t seem suspicious at first, but as the day went on, I started to feel more worried. At 4:30 pm, I finally learned that Microsoft had eliminated my position.”
Previously, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stated that the job cuts would last until March without mentioning which of its over 200,000 employees would be affected. This week, the entire engineering staff of Microsoft-owned Github in India was fired amid allegations that workers were pressured to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) as a condition of being let go.
In his message announcing the layoffs, Nadella did not mention how those impacted outside the US would be compensated. The benefits listed in his message included above-market severance pay, six months of healthcare coverage, and 60 days’ notice before termination for American workers. For that outside of the United States, like Kirui, the message only stated that benefits would be by local employment laws.
This is similar to Elon Musk’s letter to Twitter workers before firing them, but it is unclear whether Twitter will pay its former African employees. As of the time this article was published, Microsoft ADC had not yet released a comment or responded to our messages.