Nigeria: Andela Lays Off Over 250 Engineers in Nigeria, Other African Countries

17 September 2019

Tech firm and talent accelerator, Andela, has announced that it will lay off over 250 junior engineers across Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria.

Jeremy Johnson, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Andela, made this known Tuesday in a statement titled "The Future of Andela".

The layoffs come as the company announced its plan to hire another 700 experienced engineers by the end of 2020 in order to keep up with demand from its partners.

To continue creating junior engineering talent at scale, it also said it will invest in the Andela Learning Community, through which it has already trained more than 30,000 learners in software engineering fundamentals.

But despite the huge plan, the company said it has seen shifts in the market and what its customers are looking for in more experienced engineers.

By implication, Andela is letting go over 250 of its contracted junior developers in Lagos and Uganda while up to 170 trainees in Kenya could also be potentially impacted, the company said.

"As a result of that," the statement said Tuesday, "we began sourcing and assessing mid-level and senior engineers, and they now represent more than 25% of our talent base.

"While placing teams led by senior engineers has helped drive additional junior placement, it hasn't been enough. We now have significantly more junior talent than we are able to place.

"Just as important, those junior engineers want, and deserve, authentic work experience that we are not able to provide. As a result, we've come to the conclusion that Andela's next phase of growth requires a strategic shift in how we think about talent."

Historically, the company said it has viewed its talent supply as being primarily junior with some mid-level and senior engineers. Moving forward, Mr Johnson said, Andela will be shifting its approach to be focused on senior talent, with junior talent layered in on top of it.

He said: "While nuanced, this shift in focus will allow us to better align with what the market needs, and in the process better connect brilliance with opportunity at all levels.

"As part of this shift, we have also had to make an extremely difficult decision as it relates to a number of talented junior engineers. Today, we are announcing that we are closing the D0 program in Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda. Moving forward, we will be focusing D0 training efforts on our pan-African hub in Rwanda.

"In addition, we will be letting go of approximately 250 Andelans in Nigeria and Uganda, with an additional 170 potentially impacted in Kenya, who we don't believe we'll be able to find meaningful work for over the next year.

"The well-being of our employees, both past and present, is our immediate priority. We are providing holistic support programs for those who are affected by this shift, including ongoing access to learning programs and job placement services. We have committed a range of financial and emotional resources to former employees, and those who are leaving will continue to have access to the strongest engineering network on the African continent. Once an Andelan, always an Andelan."

Founded in 2014, Andela has offices in New York and five African countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Egypt.

The company selects a roster of developers each year who come on staff for a salary and are encouraged to continue working and living in their home markets in Africa.

Before the layoff, Andela had 1575 engineers on board.

The affected software engineers will gain severance packages and placement assistance and Andela is working with partners such as CCHub in Nigeria to connect the developers to new opportunities.

The emergence of the 400 developers may impact Nigeria's and indeed Africa's tech space. There are concerns over the availability of opportunities in local tech start-ups in Nigeria and other African countries.

Iyin Aboyeji, a co-founder who left the company in 2016, described the influx of young talent into the ecosystem across Africa as a welcome development.

"Glad that more junior engineering talent will come to the ecosystem. Local companies better scoop up this junior talent and build pipeline with a focus on engineering mentorship and management," he tweeted via his handle @iaboyeji on Tuesday.

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