Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that it would lay off 10,000 employees in a move to “align our cost structure with our revenue and where we see customer demand”. While the layoffs have mostly been concentrated in Seattle, Washington, where Microsoft’s operations are based, other countries have not been spared—Kenya being the first in Africa.
According to Edward Ochieng, CTO of Sklylab Systems, Microsoft’s Africa Development Centre (ADC) was also affected by the layoffs, as stated in a tweet on Tuesday. Microsoft opened its ADC branch in Kenya and Nigeria in 2019 in a move it called a long-term investment and promised to spend $100 million in its first five years. The Lagos branch expanded last year with a new facility.
Microsoft had hired over 500 developers by June 2022, most of whom were poached from local tech firms. According to several LinkedIn posts from now-former employees, the global giant has laid off some developers in Kenya.
One affected employee, Kipkorir Arap Kirui, said in a LinkedIn post, “Last Monday looked like just any other Monday, after a productive meeting with my engineering colleagues, I noticed a meeting invite from my manager in my inbox. While it initially didn’t raise any red flags as we had missed our sync the previous week, as the day progressed, I began to grow increasingly anxious. Eventually, at 4:30 pm, I was informed that Microsoft had made my role redundant.”
Nadella previously said that the Microsoft layoffs would run until March and did not specify which of its over 200,000 staff would be laid off. In India, the entire engineering team of Microsoft-owned Github was laid off this week amidst claims that employees were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) following the layoffs.
In the message announcing the layoffs earlier in the year, Nadella did not mention how those affected outside the US would be compensated. His message mentioned that American employees would receive benefits including above-market severance pay, healthcare coverage for six months, and 60 days’ notice before termination. However, for those outside the U.S., like Kirui, the message simply said that benefits would align with the employment laws in each country.
This is much like the message that Elon Musk sent to Twitter employees before laying them off; however, it remains to be seen if Twitter would compensate its former African employees. Microsoft ADC has yet to put out a statement and has yet to reply to our messages at the time of publishing.