Nokia Shedding Workforce in East Africa as Competition Bites

All those who thought they could entrench Nokia in the Kenyan market by getting freebies are now realising how they were wrong. Nokia East and Southern Africa management even thought that chest thumping and bravado will make them see the light. It has not worked. They even stole the idea of young Kenyans and thought that because they have money, we should keep quiet. Techmtaa was blunt and now reality is sinking in.

Market is won by innovation, prudent management and consistency in pursuing success. You can use bribery as a shortcut. Ok! Dorothy Ooko left Nokia for Google and now she has some orphans she has to take care of lest they starve. Ken Oyolla who is the General Manager of Nokia East and Southern Africa has confirmed that he is leaving by the end of the year. Meanwhile Nokia’s regional office based in Nairobi will remain like those haunted mansions in UK. Agatha Gikunda is alone there. She was supposed to be doing developer relations but her functions were mostly usurped by the domineering Dorothy Ooko. She single-handedly fought to have new products sent to developers in Kenya and anyone who did not lick her tako well did not have their apps on the featured list.

There is shredding going on. Functions are going to be transferred and Delia Seif and her team in SA will be handling major functions. The only bad thing is that Nokia is loosing its only African General Manager.

I really doubt if Ken and Dorothy’s departure from Nokia is out of their own willingness to look for opportunities elsewhere. I believe that as per this release by Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop, in September, many of the employees were given options to be reassigned, retired or themselves to look for opportunities elsewhere. Those who still have their egos like Ken and Dorothy have chosen to leave.

I was one time Nokia addict. Anyone who worked with me in early 2003 to 2005 will know that I bought every N series to the most primitive Nokia phone available then straight from Finland through Dubai. I used websites like Jackys to shop when none of those who claim to know Nokia here knew even what Nokia stood for. When HTC and iPhone entered the scene, I saw it best to tell Nokia the truth. Nokia never listened. Nokia thought that they could conquer the market by using deception. Now they are bleeding.

I contacted Dorothy sending her 7 pages of mail on why Nokia sucks and should change game. Dorothy thought it was playa hater. I repeated it again and when she replied stupidly I also hit back stupidly (dawa ya moto ni moto). Not even 3 years and she had to jump ship to Google where I doubt she will last ( I will reveal why on another day). Google is so different from Nokia and Dorothy is in an age of bribery, deception and ass kissing. Google has that mentality but on a different angle.

Why is Nokia Downsizing?

Nokia revealed in April its plans to reduce its global work force by 4,000 employees in Europe and Asia by the end of 2012. Africa was not strongly mentioned in the restructuring plans but Africa has never been taken seriously by Nokia

Nokia has failed to delivered innovation. They have continue to sell overpriced products in the market while not researching well on the need of consumers from this market. This has led to Nokia continually losing the Kenyan market footing to Chinese handset makers like Huawei, ZTE and Korean Samsung. The latter is also not in a great position to compete as they continue to overprice key products in the market.

Nokia’s head of communication also targeted the wrong crowd to get the message out their on their products. Dorothy Ooko served her purpose only when she dissed free goodies to desperate wannabe bloggers. She sorrounded herself with media rejects and cyber layabouts whose only claim now is that they are a big crowd of Dorothy Ooko’s orphans. She never sought to have Nokia engage with the hawker in Gikomba, Wheat farmer in Narok, Camel herder in Mandera or Fisherman on Lake Victoria who really needed a working service. She was hanging out with people who did not see it best to tell her the truth. Imagine anyone telling Nokia that N9 is a phone to be taken seriously. Why yet the phone does not win the confidence of a potential buyer over future support and is almost 50% more expensive than Nokia N8 which has better offerings than N9.

Nokia’s promotion of local apps have been done on condition that you have to worship the head of Nokia locally. This has not gone down well and the same complaints were raised by developers in South Africa recently.

Nokia once stole the idea of a Kenyan and when they were asked, Dorothy arrogantly retorted how Nokia coined the idea and will never recognise the IP owner. The case against Nokia is looking bad and to avoid embarrassment, Dorothy had to jump ship.

Fortunes are dwindling and unlike Motorola which left on own volition, Nokia is being pushed out by competition.

Written by Robert

Respected Kenyan blogger, tech evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle @RobertAlai or Facebook page (

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