Local Tech Firms Lose Their Talent To Big Tech


Over the recent years, we have seen big American tech companies increase investment on the continent to take advantage of growing economies with rising access to the internet and a youthful population. Kenya and other African countries like Nigeria and South Africa have become launch pads for these companies’ products.

These companies led by Microsoft, Amazon,  and Google are now disrupting the local talent ecosystem by luring young tech developers with higher salaries and better working conditions than the local and small international companies.

Nairobi, A Launch Pad Of Multimillion Tech Companies.

Global tech companies have been investing heavily in the region over recent years. Nairobi has quickly emerged as a destination of choice for most of these technology companies. This might be due to it being relatively advanced when it comes to infrastructure and Kenya being a peaceful democratic country.

Four months ago Google announced they will open a product development center in Nairobi which was the first of its kind in Africa. The company is investing KES 120 billion in digital transformation projects across the continent.

Microsoft was among the first and it has been investing and building technology development hubs in Kenya investing almost KES 1.2billiion. These companies hire local engineers and developers to customize their products to be more relatable.

Microsoft, in 2019, opened an Africa Development Centre. This is an engineering hub in Nairobi and it promised to hire up to 500 tech-related personnel. They will be working in various functions in software engineering, machine learning, data science, market research, and other areas.

 The Ongoing Talent war

The talent war may be good for the Kenyan techies. It will result in higher salaries for them. But local and smaller foreign tech companies will have to lose out on the best talent. They will be forced to either hire second-tier or come up with innovative solutions to keep their talent.

The multinational tactic is to use their huge budget to pay ridiculous salaries. They are willing to pay up to sh1.8 million monthly for principal tech. A junior tech developer will also be paid around sh 300,000. Mid-level techies will earn around sh 500000 while senior developers can see themselves earning between KES 800000 and sh1.3 million.

Local companies like Wasoko, Flocash, Twita foods, Lori Systems, and Sendy will be forced to give up their engineers. This is despite hiring them through internship programs from their university.

These companies will have to use their familiarity with the local environment and develop a vast recruitment network. Other solutions are having training and internship programs or working with independent developers.

A long-term solution will be for the government, through the ministry of education, to introduce a curriculum that will increase technology courses and therefore increase the talent pool.

About Nyambura Tabitha

Tabitha Nyambura is a seasoned Kenyan journalist with years of experience in digital publishing. Her focus is on politics and the economy. She has worked as a freelance journalist for ten years and continues to bring interesting stories that matter to readers all across East Africa.