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Durban makes waves as BPO destination

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The contact centre and business process outsourcing (BPO) industries in Durban continue to grow at speed, creating local job opportunities by attracting local and international investors.
The city of Durban can rightfully claim its position as one of the leading BPO locations in South Africa, says Johann Kunz, MD of WNS South Africa, the local arm of global business process outsourcing firm, WNS. “With its skilled talent pool, first-rate infrastructure and central location, Durban also has the potential to be a leader in the international contact centre industry,” he adds.
Having the second largest business and industrial base in the country, WNS identified Durban as a strategically suitable location to open its sixth South African delivery centre, located in the River Horse Valley Business Estate.
“We envision our new Durban delivery centre to be a catalyst for job creation, skills development and economic growth within previously disadvantaged areas of the region. We have already created 400 jobs after opening our doors and aim to increase this to over 1 000 new job opportunities in the next 12 months,” says Kunz.
Kunz adds that Durban has carved out its own speciality within the local contact centre industry; namely, delivering outbound and IT interactions.
Tebogo Molapisane, CEO of South African BPO industry body BPESA, says that after more than a decade in operation, the South African BPO industry is maturing to offer a range of business process solutions. “The industry has also been identified by government as a priority sector and key contributor to economic growth.”
BPO involves contracting a third party provider to take over the operation of a particular company’s business functions with the aim of being more efficient. These functions, which include customer interaction services, among other processes, are often delivered from another country.
“The BPO/contact centre industry currently accounts for over 215 000 jobs across the country, with approximately 26 500 of those servicing international markets. This figure is expected to grow significantly over the next few years,” says Molapisane.
Kunz adds that the local BPO industry plays an important role in boosting job opportunities, especially for the youth of the country where it is most needed. “In addition to providing these employment opportunities, the BPO sector also provides young people with critical skills to build their careers. Through our registered in-house FET college, we will roll out a number of training and development programmes to benefit employees from previously disadvantaged communities within the eThekwini Municipality and surrounding areas.
“While creating employment opportunities remains important, the expansion of skills is vital to ensure sustainability and long-term advancement for both the industry and the individuals who work in it,” Kunz says.