Africa Development Centre Kenya is affected by Microsoft's global layoffs

Barely 24 hours after rumours started about layoffs at Microsoft ADC Kenya, an employee has confirmed that he was affected by the layoff which is part of a global job cut at the big tech.

Africa Development Centre Kenya is affected by Microsoft's global layoffs
Former Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta during the launch of Microsoft ADC facility in Kenya 

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that it is laying off 10,000 employees due to macroeconomic conditions and changing customer priorities.

"As we saw customers accelerate their digital spend during the pandemic, we’re now seeing them optimize their digital spend to do more with less," Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella says. "We are also seeing organizations in every industry and geography exercise caution as some parts of the world are in a recession and other parts are anticipating one."

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company said that the layoffs will run from now through to the end of Q3 2023. Within this period, the company said it will still hire for "strategic positions".

"We will continue to invest in strategic areas for our future, meaning we are allocating both our capital and talent to areas of secular growth and long-term competitiveness for the company while divesting in other areas," Satya said in a memo to Microsoft employees in January 2023.

Satya's memo to Microsoft employees in January 2023.

As part of the cuts, the big tech laid off about 2,700 of its Seattle-based employees. Microsoft reportedly laid off its entire ethics and society team; only about seven people were on the team after it was reorganised last October.

What's happening at Microsoft ADC?

Edward Ochieng, the CTO of Sklylab Systems, a Kenyan software development company on Tuesday, March 28 alleged that there is an ongoing layoff at the Microsoft Africa Development Centre (ADC) in Kenya.

"Something bad is happening at Microsoft Kenya (ADC)—layoffs," Edward tweeted. "They have been expecting it but now it's happening". He told that some of his friends were affected.

Yesterday, Kipkorir Arap Kirui who has been working as a product manager at Microsoft ADC Kenya since 2021 disclosed that he was laid off. "At 4:30 pm [on Monday, March 27], I was informed that Microsoft had made my role redundant. I have many unanswered questions, and it will take some time to come to terms with this news. However, I do find solace in knowing that it was not due to any performance-related issues," Kirui wrote in a LinkedIn post.

Tabitha Maina, Microsoft ADC communication lead is yet to respond to our request for comment on this issue. However, similar allegations have not been made about the Lagos-based office.

Although Satya clearly stated how affected US-based employees will be treated amidst the layoffs, he did not make specific mention of Africa or other regions. "Benefits for employees outside the U.S. will align with the employment laws in each country," he said in the internal memo.

The benefits for affected US-based employees will include "above-market severance pay, continuing healthcare coverage for six months, continued vesting of stock awards for six months, career transition services, and 60 days' notice before termination, regardless of whether such notice is legally required," Satya disclosed. 

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In 2019, the company launched its first ADC in Kenya, and then Nigeria as part of its commitment to technological advancement on the continent. Between its launch and 2025, the big tech said it will spend about $100 million on the operations of the ADCs.

The facilities for both centres were commissioned in 2022.

Describing the importance of these centres, Phil Spencer, executive sponsor of the ADC and executive vice president at Microsoft said, "the ADC will be unlike any other existing investment on the continent. It will help us better listen to our customers, develop locally and scale for global impact."

At the time, Microsoft disclosed that 500 full-time developers were expected to be hired at the ADC by 2023, to work on artificial intelligence, cloud computing and mixed reality to devise cutting-edge solutions fit for Africa and the rest of the world. As of June 2022, Microsoft ADC already hired more than 500 developers.

At the start, most of these developers were poached from big companies like Kenya's Safaricom. For instance, Jack Ngare led the fintech arm of Kenya's largest bank by assets, Equity Bank, until 2019 when he joined Microsoft ADC Kenya as managing director, he reportedly led a major recruitment drive that saw startups among other firms lose some of their best engineers.

Editor's Note: This is a developing story, it will be updated with more details.

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