Bloemfontein hopes to become a business process outsourcing and offshoring (BPO&O) hub, following a R50-million strategic partnership between Mangaung Local Municipality (MLM) and technology leaders from South Africa and abroad.

Ealier in the decade, South Africa's Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) embarked on a business process outsourcing initiative aimed primarily at attracting off-shored call centre business to South Africa. As a result the large metropolitan centres were able to attract numerous large offshore call centres to South Africa.
In recent years, recognising that the BPO initiative needed to be broadened to ensure a greater spread of services and economic benefit across the country, the DTI launched its second economy BPO&O initiative, which incentivises BPO&O activity in less traditional locations.
Second economy BPO, as distinct from first generation BPO, is dependent on tapping into offshore AND local business process outsourcing services and includes an emphasis on leveraging the use of ICT as an enabler to achieve local economic development through effective service delivery.
A key element of second generation BPO concentrates on ensuring long-term sustainability for these services.
Fujitsu Services, UniNet Communications, Cisco and Microsoft are service partners that are investing in the MLM BPO&O Hub to deliver the "Re Hodisa Moruo Project", unveiled today.
While focusing on the development of sustainable BPO&O business, the project will facilitate economic development through the enhanced delivery of municipal services and greater co-operation between the community and the municipality.
The project will be delivered through the innovative use of technologies that will utilise the strengths of the "Re Hodisa Moruo" partners.
"The challenge for MLM is how to harness the use of ICT technologies as an enabler to improve the lives of the citizens, provide better services at a lower cost and make the City a more attractive place to live and work in, as in the vision of our Integrated Development Plan (IDP)." says Thabo Manyoni, city manager of MLM.
The project will deploy a delivery model that leverages the experience of private sector partners to provide innovative solutions that will initially focus on improved efficiency of basic service delivery, stimulating local economic development, accelerated readiness for the World Cup 2010, and improved communication with the community.
This will be effected largely through the optimisation and expansion of existing municipal infrastructure and services, thereby empowering the municipality to provide the next level of delivery.
The expansion and optimisation, for example, of the Municipal Fibre network and the deployment of a broadband network that will serve the BPO and call centre initiative of the project, will also improve communications between the municipality and the community.
"A central service centre will be established in Mangaung that will contribute to job creation by skilling existing municipal employees, and training new personnel. This will allow co-ordination of service delivery between MLM and the public," says Elvin de Kock, MD of Fujitsu Services. "The hub also has the potential to offer shared services for the region's other municipalities and the Free State provincial government departments."
Local economic development and job creation will be enhanced through employment at the call centre/BPO Hub, Mangaung-based training and skills development, and the establishment of local offices for Fujitsu and UniNet.
The initial investment into Mangaung by the "Re Hodisa Moruo" partners will be in excess of R50-million rand.