Source: Leadership Nigeria - Photo: 2024

Microsoft Shuts Down Center in Lagos, Leaving Hundreds in the Lurch

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK | 19 May 2024 (IDN) — A Microsoft development center is shutting down in Lagos, where hundreds of staffers had nursed high hopes for training opportunities and the prospect of a good job in the high-tech industry.

Just two years ago, the Development Center was opened with much fanfare. It was the company’s first of engineering offices in Africa in Lagos and Nairobi.

Some $70 million was invested in Kings Tower—a business icon in Ikoyi, Lagos. Two years later it was just a dream deferred. But why would the company so quickly pull the plug?

The answer was a muddle. “We will continue to operate in Nigeria, and we remain committed to Nigeria’s transformation objectives…As such, we will continue to invest in our business and key growth areas in the region,” Microsoft explained.

In a telephone call with Bloomberg News, Microsoft explained that organizational and workforce adjustments were a necessary and regular part of managing their business. In addition, Nigeria had been battling a currency crisis, dollar shortages and high inflation.

Online figure Dare Obasanjo said he had heard rumors of layoffs at Microsoft in Nigeria “but I didn’t expect them to shut down the entire development center and lay off everyone.”

“It’s not surprising given the layoffs across the industry but it is disappointing.”

Government officials, however, were in total denial. Temitope Ajaye, the senior special assistant on Media and Publicity, refuted reports claiming that the Lagos center would be closed. In a statement via X, Ajayi called the shutdown “an incorrect media report.”

“Re-aligning roles”

The organization was “re-aligning roles” within its business, he insisted, adding that “a few roles will certainly be impacted.”

Into the vacuum came Labor Party presidential candidate Peter Obi, lamenting the shutdown. “It underscores the need for comprehensive economic reforms in Nigeria… The closure of Microsoft’s innovation center represents yet another significant setback for Nigeria’s aspirations to become a hub for technology and innovation in Africa.”

The center had over 200 engineers, mainly Nigerians, who were producing “wave making digital solutions touted to have the capability of changing the African narrative.”

However, it appears that vision may have been disrupted by the sudden closure, which officials have vehemently refused to explain beyond “organizational and workforce adjustments“.

Last month, Nigeria’s THISDAY publication, said they observed what appeared to look like a desolate area in the building housing the Microsoft Innovation Center in Lagos. The entire seven floors of the building were without staff and the few staff members on duty were the front desk staff and security personnel that kept watch over the place.

The absence of staff was an indication that Microsoft may have taken the decision earlier to shut down the innovation center, according to them. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Image source: Leadership Nigeria

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