Kenya’s president William Ruto recently made headlines with his announcement of negotiations with tech giants Google, Intel, and Apple. His vision? To create a digital workforce in the hundreds of thousands, literally (Wanasema tupatie wafanyikazi 100,000, 200,000, 300,000).
However, this announcement comes at a time when these very companies have been laying off employees. So, how credible are President Ruto’s claims?
President Ruto has painted a picture of a future where his country is a hub for digital innovation and employment. He has quoted figures as high as 100,000, 200,000, and even 300,000 young Kenyans getting new jobs in the digital sector. These numbers are not only ambitious but also quoted to be the number of employees these tech companies need.
However, one must question the feasibility of such a vision. Can these tech giants really provide such a vast number of jobs?
A quick fact-check shows Google currently employs about 178,234 people worldwide in 2023, this is since its inception 25 years ago, how they would need 100,000 Kenyan employees makes no sense. In comparison, Apple had a total number of employees of 164,000, a 6.49% increase from 2021, to hire 200,000 or 300,000 would just not be feasible.
Interestingly, the same Google, Intel, and Apple have recently been in the news for laying off employees. This raises serious doubts about President Ruto’s claims. If these companies are reducing their workforce, how can they simultaneously create hundreds of thousands of new jobs?
- Layoffs at Tech Companies:
- Google: In 2023, Google confirmed it would lay off hundreds of staff members who helped recruit and hire employees. Google also laid off approximately 12,000 jobs earlier in the year.
- Intel: Intel has also announced layoffs. The company confirmed that it plans to cut its workforce to reduce costs. The exact number of layoffs was not specified.
- Apple: Apple has reportedly started a small number of corporate layoffs. However, compared to other tech companies, Apple’s layoffs seem to be on a massively smaller scale
One might argue that the reasons behind these layoffs could be numerous – say restructuring, automation but that is not true, these companies have been citing economic downturns making the timing of these layoffs in relation to President Ruto’s announcement indeed questionable.
While President Ruto’s vision for a digital workforce is certainly grand, it seems to be at odds with the current realities faced by the tech companies he is supposedly partnering with. The recent layoffs suggest that these companies are not in a position to create as many jobs as he claims.
Without calling Ruto’s vision for a digital workforce a lie, let’s just agree that it appears to be more of a dream than a reality at this point. I will, however, not rule out the claims, but perhaps it is crucial to approach such claims with skepticism and consider the current landscape before buying into such grand visions.