South Africa is still counted as one of the top 30 destinations for offshoring IT operations, and may even have an advantage over the best-performing offshore countries because of strong English language skills.

Gartner has announced its Top 30 offshore locations, culled from 72 countries assessed. The analysis shows that the dynamic nature of the market has seen a number of countries position themselves as credible alternatives to the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
"Countries such as Mexico, Poland and Vietnam have continued to strengthen their position against leading alternatives, while others have forced their way into the Top 30," says Ian Marriott, research vice-president at Gartner. "These countries will be seeking to take advantage of the opportunity created by the increased focus that many organisations now have on cost optimisation, as a result of the current economic crisis."
During the last 12 months there has been significant activity in many countries to consolidate or grow their positions as leading locations for offshore services.
"As a result of this, four countries have dropped out of the Top 30 and have been replaced by four that were just outside the list 12 months ago," says Marriott. "This does not mean that the four 'relegated' countries have underperformed this year but the dynamic nature of the market has seen others making strong progress."
The four countries leaving the Top 30 this year were Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Uruguay. The new entrants into the 30 leading countries for offshore services were Egypt, Morocco, Panama and Thailand.
Strong interest in nearshore locations was a key factor; language skills, cultural compatibility, time zone and travel time were important considerations. As French-speaking countries increase their proportion of work conducted offshore, they have been keen to find appropriate French language countries, and saw Morocco step up. The nearshore benefits of Egypt and Panama, and the cost consideration in Thailand were also important.
In 2008, Gartner¹s top 30 locations for offshore services, by region, were:
* Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama;
* Asia/Pacific: Australia, China, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam; and
* Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA): the Czech Republic, Egypt, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Morocco, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain and Ukraine.
The final list of 30 countries included 13 from EMEA and for the first time saw two North African countries enter the leading countries in EMEA.
Locations such as Ireland, Israel and South Africa fared well for language skills, because of the quality and quantity of English-language speakers.
However, other countries, such as Morocco, Romania, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary were also given credit for the availability of alternative languages that address the needs of an increasing number of continental European buyers.
Cultural compatibility was variable, although only one EMEA country (the Ukraine) was rated lower than "good." In recent years, many countries in EMEA have become nearshore centres for traditional service providers and large Indian providers. This is reflected in the global and legal maturity section, where eight of the 13 countries scored between "good" and "excellent".
Few countries in this region, with the exception of Russia, have a good selection of local service providers actively selling their capability outside their own country. In the final category of data and intellectual property security and privacy, a mature domestic environment or membership of the EU resulted in the highest ratings.