Category Archives: Africa

Outsourcing: Kenya vs. Nigeria in Africa

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I am writing this entry with happiness and sadness.  Happiness for Kenya, and sadness for Nigeria.  Africa is a part of the world, that had a hard time developing and has been plagued with disease, famine, civil war, dictators, and blood thirsty rebels.  Although the people are very charming, the continent doesn’t sound like my type of a place — even to visit!  I went to college with dozens of African classmates from all over the continent from Morocco, to Cote D’ivoire, Kenya, Lesuthu, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, and many other places as well.  So, I’m familiar with people from Africa, at least educated ones. But, running has made me become painfully aware of the economic realities of modern Africa.  Certain countries are serious about doing business, while others are not.
When I started, I assumed many things. I assumed that our web design section with it’s 800 listings (largest section on our site) would do well. I was not aware that web design as an industry was failing.  I assumed that India would be our #1 country — I was correct on that guess.  I assumed that South Africa would be the most active African country in outsourcing on my site — wrong again.  Kenya wins the competition. We get many serious companies in BPO, Data Entry, Call Center, Accounting, and other specialties signing up from Kenya regularly. We see a little activity from South Africa too, but not as much.  Nigeria has been a disaster. Yes, the sign up numbers are there, but most of them look like schemes, or businesses not relevant to our site such as money changing.  Hopefully none of the companies are fraudulent.
Nigeria leads the world in corruption and internet scams as well. It is scary and sad.  If a country is to get ahead, they need a strong work ethic, and a good reputation. Nigeria seems to be shooting itself in the foot, even on our site with it’s questionable listings.
Things seem to always change.  Twenty years ago, the world was a very different place.  Perhaps in another twenty, Kenya will rise to be a very powerful country, and we will all have to learn Kiswahili.  We’ll see. They are on the right track for now, based on how they are performing on my little directory. In the mean time — “kwahairi”.  So long!

African Outsourcing

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Outsourcing in Africa

Africa has a growing outsourcing industry with South Africa taking the lead. Although India has the bulk of the outsourcing market for the time being, Africa has offerings that India has no way of providing — Languages. Many European languages are spoken in Africa such as Dutch, French, Arabic, and many others. Although these languages will not attract U.S. outsourcers, they will attract many companies in Europe and the Middle East. Additionally, many African call center workers can learn to speak very authentic British sounding English much better than call center employees in other parts of the world. Speaking with the local accent is one way of gaining popularity with customers.

Political instability, frequent power outages, and poor infrastructure are factors that are detremental to the African outsourcing industry as a whole. But, prices are so low, that for many, its well worth it to tolerate these dangers and inconveniences. As time goes on, African countries are gaining credibility in the international market as reliable outsourcers.

Putting language aside, cultural attributes in Africa can be very helpful in the BPO Call Center industry. Being empathetic to distressed customers comes naturally to many African call center workers, perhaps more so than in other countries.

One area that is very important is broadband internet infrastructure. If a country has good connectivity especially in economic areas, then it can provide efficient and reliable communication services which are key in the call center industry. A year ago, Africa had no fibre-optic vertebrae. The recent building of four underwater cables has increased bandwidth capacity by one-hundred fold and has increased speed and reduced prices for internet usage as well. Currently there are only four million Kenyans with regular internet access, but access is expected to rise with the future sales of 3G mobile phones with internet accessibility.

African outsourcing continues to grow, and in another few years it will become a matured and regular desination for various types of outsourcing. With more global choices available, companies can find the most optimized match for their service needs which makes the world an overall better place.