While the world faces the prospect of 51-million jobs lost in the current economic downturn, business process outsource & offshoring is one sector that is set to prosper – and South Africa is benefiting from the phenomenon.
eTelecare recently become the latest large scale BPO to enter the South Africa market in a R50-million investment. The global BPO operator follows on from the likes of Shell, Barclays, Lufthansa and Teletech, all of which have call centre operations in South Africa.
"South Africa is the ideal place to outsource to; we are cost effective, cater for various languages, have cultural affinity with many markets and are well positioned to Europe in relation to time zones," says Sipho Zungu CEO of Calling the Cape. "On top of this, South Africa currently has one of the lowest attrition rates by call centre
standards at just 17.27%, whereas some offshore players are as high as 80%."
In December 2006, the South African government implemented the BPO support strategy. The strategy together with the Government Assistance & Support programme (GAS) aims to create 100 000 jobs by the end of 2009.
The GAS initiative consists of five key areas; aimed at upskilling, promotion of foreign investment and the creation of jobs in previously neglected areas. Of the five initiatives, two have proved particularly successful, the first of these, the Training and Skills Support Grant, subsidises the training of staff, providing company specific training to the value of R12 000.00 per agent.
The second, the BPO Investment Support Grant, also takes the form of financial incentives ranging from R37 000.00 to R60 000.00 per seat created. These incentives are offered to local and foreign investors who aim to serve offshore clients, promoting investment in the South African call centre industry.
According to the Deloitte Key Indicator Report which focuses on Cape Town call centres, these measures are proving successful.
"It might seem like a difficult task but, with the current measures in place, I believe South Africa will be able to create 100 000 jobs through the sector, if not by the end of 2009 then soon after," says Zungu.
"South Africa is a great call centre destination; we provide excellent services at highly competitive rates. With the recession affecting both local and international companies, South Africa is perfectly placed to cement its place as a world class call centre destination," says Chris Jacobs CEO of 121 Outsource.