BT, which has traditionally kept a low profile in South Africa, has kicked off a year of change and expansion in the local market. 

Hot on the heels of a major managed network contact with Anglo American, the telecommunications supplier will announce a corporate social responsibility programme in April, the introduction of its 21st Century Global Networking capability in June; its BEE strategy towards the end of the year; and a plan for an outsourced facility by the end of the year.
The Anglo American contract, in partnership with HP, is worth $450-million over a seven-year period.
BT's portion of the contract relates to managed voice services, while HP will undertake to manage the company's IT infrastructure.
Brian Armstrong, GM: Middle East & Africa at BT, explains that BT has been present in South Africa for about 15 years but, until 2003, operated purely in the telco-to-telco arena.
In 2003, BT won the global contact to look after Unilever's network and the local organisation ramped up to deliver services to the South African operation of Unilever.
Since then, BT has grown from six people to about 75 and has entered into about 30 contracts with South African-based companies. It also looks after the local service delivery for about 280 global contracts.
Among the organisation's South Africa-based clients are Reuters, Visa, HP and Old Mutual.
The Anglo America deal is the first multi-million dollar commercial contract signed by BT in South Africa, and it's a direction the company will be pursuing going forward.
Regarding the 21st Century Global Network, Armstrong explains this is the completely refreshed BT network, running entirely on native IP.
The company will approach its BEE strategy as a joint venture, he adds.
The global sourcing strategy will likely see a contact centre being established in South Africa, although this has not yet been finalised and there's no indication how many jobs it would involve.
Armstrong points out that BT currently contracts about 10 000 jobs in India.
"I am optimistic we will have at least a pilot operational in South Africa by early next year," he says. Initially, a local contact centre operation, which would more than likely be a joint venture with an existing local player, would have not more than 1 000 seats at the top end.
There are no firm plans in place regarding strategic soucing in the local market, but Armstrong confirms that South Africa has been shortlisted as a candidate.