As part of a broader strategy aimed at developing stronger ties between the UK and South African markets, a number of key industry representatives joined President Jacob Zuma on his recent state visit to the UK
The industries that formed part of the delegation included agriculture, BPO (business process outsourcing), financial, IT, mining and telecommunications.
According to Fagri Semaar, interim CEO of BPeSA Western Cape: "The trade mission was a very valuable networking event, and provided insight into opportunities for strengthening trade between South Africa and the UK. It also helped solidify South Africa’s relationship with the UK while promoting investment opportunities.
“During our time in the UK we met with a number of potential clients, and as a result now have a number of companies who will be conducting inward missions to the Western Cape over the next few months,” he adds.
The BPO areas highlighted for growth include financial services, creative functions (such as desktop publishing and software development) and legal process outsourcing, which has been earmarked as a core focus area for 2010 and beyond.
Potential investment hurdles discussed include high broadband and labour costs. “These two areas need to be closely monitored to ensure that upcoming BPO destinations like Kenya and Egypt, where competitive Telecom tariffs are imminent, don’t take business away from us,” Semaar says.
Semaar believes that the trade mission has further established South Africa and, in particular, the Western Cape as a top-class call centre destination, which can more than hold its own against the likes of India and the Philippines.
“Price competition with the likes of India does not currently favour the South African proposition, but it is our quality, which sets us apart particularly around voice services and complex back office operations.”
With a second recession expected in the UK in the coming months, South Africa is well positioned to further build its presence as an ideal BPO destination, Semaar adds.
Over the past decade the BPO market in South Africa has matured from an emerging service offering into a world-class operation, he points out. “As custodians of the South African BPO brand we invite international and local investors to take advantage of the range of benefits found in our flourishing sector and nation”