A Kenyan International development consulting firm has replaced all its staff members with foreigners in a raft of measures aimed at cutting costs.
IPE Global (Africa) Limited, which is a subsidiary of IPE Global based in India was thought to be shutting down its operations in Kenya, but the company said that that was not the case.
“While it’s correct we are re-organising our business in Kenya, we have no plans of ceasing operation in the country”, wrote Nikos Papachristodoulou to KenyanBusinessFeed.com.
Nikos is the acting head of the firm in Kenya, according to his email signature.
Asked if it is true, the company had fired the all its Kenyan staff, Nikos replied, “This information is incorrect”.
Sources indicate that in late 2019, the firm had a majority of Kenyans working within its ranks but a change of strategy led to the firing of all Kenyan staff replaced by those from Europe and India.
Kenya’s historical preoccupation with being an attractive destination for foreigners and their money has come at the expense of catering to the needs and aspirations of its citizens.Dr Wandia Njoya, lecturer
Once officed at the 10th floor of Mirage Towers, a spot check confirms the firm is in the process of moving to an undisclosed location to conduct its business.
Many firms are struggling under the weight of the changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and it appears IPE Africa is struggling too leading to the office location changes.
KenyanBusinessFeed.com also established that, while the Kenyan staff won projects occasionally in the tough international development market, they were replaced without much care for this as the new manager for African strategy Richard Waddington foresaw that an African Strategy could not be undertaken by Africans.
A look at the firm’s management structure in Africa, some of the new faces came from other struggling companies. Some with trails of company destruction.
In February 2017, DfID cut off funding after it emerged that Adam Smith International (ASI), which has been entrusted with £450m in development cash since 2011, had tried to profiteer by exploiting leaked department documents. It was also heavily criticised for trying to “unduly influence” a parliamentary inquiry by engineering “letters of appreciation” from beneficiaries of its projects.
IPE’s head of strategy, Richard Waddington came from ASI.
Richard, the strategist for Africa, KenyanBusinessFeed.com was informed, spent 2 years of his first years at IPE Global with below par performance, but was retained.
IPE has some key ongoing projects even as it cut down staff, the USD 3.6 Million (Sh). IGAD Regional Infrastructure Master Plan (IRIMP) signed in April 2018 and the GBP 165 million (Sh21 billion) Cities and Infrastructure for Growth programme (CiG) given by DFID.
Now that the struggling firm, with ‘a south-south approach committed to Kenya and the wider East Africa region’, is seeking to either exit the Kenyan market or change its strategy to retain highly paid European expats, it is prudent to look at another that took up such a strategy.
We covered a story of another firm, Spencon that was brought down but such expats.
As per a BBC documentary, Spencon, a reputable engineering firm was brought down by a private equity firm, Emerging Capital Partners (ECP), in the process, thousands of jobs were lost in the country and the region.
For 500 years, capital has relied on the devaluation of lives in the global South, whether it be through colonisation, dispossession, genocide and slavery, or, more recently, through structural adjustment programmes, free trade agreements and corporate land grabs that depress the costs of Southern labour and resources. The $1.90 line is the legacy of this long history. It is part of a colonial ideology that sees people of colour as cheap.Jason Hickel, Lecturer
The documentary raised several critical issues concerning workers that call for reflection and perhaps government intervention. One of the obvious peculiarities about Kenya that was starkly highlighted is the special treatment that government agencies still accord foreign nationals and entities.
At Spencon, two British nationals, Andrew Ross and Steven Haswell, are reported to have mistreated their Kenyan employees.
Apart from first getting rid of staff of Kenyan descent, IPE story seems to be a related one; just like Spencon, hire expats, ship money to Europe, collapse the firm, drive many to poverty.
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