In tech, choosing a location to operate your business has to be one of the most important decisions you have to make. This critical decision became a big deal when some tech companies picked a particular African country, Kenya, as their strategic point of business or their preferred extension destination.
Recently, Kenya became host to a few tech companies, becoming a regional hub, the best location for an ADC facility, and the next technology and service hub. But, there’s no doubt the question on everyone’s mind is “Why.” What’s in Kenya? What’s going on in Kenya? Is Kenya the next playground for tech? And many more inquisitions in the industry.
Recently, one of the companies to take on Kenya is “Microsoft.” In March, it opened its African Development Center (ADC) facility in Westland Nairobi. There are only two digital hubs in Africa, and the second is in Lagos, Nigeria.
The ADC, housed by the Dunhill Towers, is said to be worth about three billion Kenyan Shillings.
While Microsoft revealed its decision in March, which mentioned that “The ultra-modern engineering facility is the 1st of its kind serving the East Africa region, and will house over 450 full-time employees”.
Google had also stated that out of over Seven Hundred Thousand (700,000) developers in Africa. The majority of them are from both Nigeria and Kenya.
Could the need to employ over four hundred employees and developers be the only reason? Is that what Big Microsoft only cared so about in Africa?
In April, Google announced hiring for specific positions at its Nairobi Center. In addition, the company had just opened the first and only Google Product Development Center (PDC) in Africa.
In Google’s opinion, launching its Artificial intelligence center in Accra, Ghana, birthed the PDC in Nairobi, and Google did not deny the need for helpful innovation.
Bolt explained that Nairobi is a strategic location for the company to manage its companies in Africa. In the past, Bolt had no Headquarters in Africa, yet it had offices in about seven countries on the continent.
It was still surprising that Kenya was the location of choice because now it had begun to seem like a trend. Just before the day ran out, another launch out to Kenya was announced.
MoNo, a Nigerian open banking startup, has decided to join the crew. Founded in 2020, Mono is a fintech company committed to providing transparent and holistic financial data and seamless banking transactions. The company went live in Kenya, stating it was part of its “post-funding continent-wide rollout.”
This move will see companies like Indicina, Flutterwave, Carbon, and other fintech access Mono’s financial data in Kenya, through the Mono contest API.
The company recently received $ 15 million in a Series A funding round, which was ushered by Tiger global. According to its CEO, Abdul Hassan,” Kenya is a thriving East African hub for financial services, with a growing pool of businesses building truly innovative financial solutions.”
Could his statement mean Mono doesn’t want to be left out? If the trend seems to be that everyone is moving, why can’t they too?
The move of about four big tech companies to Kenya within the space of 4 months is validating enough to inquire about what Kenya has to offer Fintechs and startups in the Nation.
Kenya, on its own, has begun to show evidence that it embraces international investors and startups in the tech industry. For example, recently, President Uhuru launched the Nairobi International Financial Center, NIFC. This launch was in partnership with CityUK, yet it was only after some of these companies had moved or announced their decision to move to Kenya.
In deliberation with one of Kenya’s renowned Tech Journalist at Techweez, Kenn Abuya, tech company invasion in Kenya is not just about its location on the African map but also involves the Economic, Social, and humanitarian amenities the Nation has to offer. This is in comparison with some major countries on the continent.
According to Abuya, Kenya is a strategic location for the tech ex-pats; the Nation’s capital provides amenities you can only find in a few African cities, some of which are Cape Town, Casablanca, or Cario. Yet they do not meet up in Nairobi, Kenya, to be settled.
Countries or cities that could also qualify to house tech development centers are either caught up in religious or cultural sentiments, geographically too far away from the continent’s center, too expensive or wrapped up in wars with insecurity.
Abuya said, “Nairobi, bad as it is, is a little heaven in Africa.” Although Kenya has its challenges where concerned, it is one of the best places startups will choose to settle.
Sources reveal that the Nation possesses several resources that make it habitable for international organizations and ex-pats. This includes affordable living, favorable weather, a supportive community to help build startups, quality education for foreign children, impressive hospitality to host business guests, a developed healthcare system, and many more.
With these resources in place, it reiterates that the decision by the listed tech companies to move to Nairobi is well beyond being a strategic location on the continent but also has to do with the quality of resources Nairobi has to offer and at what cost.
There are assurances that if the condition remains the same in Kenya, there should also be an expectation of a growing ecosystem at a fast pace. But, will it push other nations to improve on what it has to offer ex-parts or develop in specific sectors of the Nation? Well, only time will tell. But, till then, Kenya Is becoming a playground for tech in Africa.