A New Outsourcing Frontier

2 Feb ’05

The NYT is running a story on the growth of Kenya and other African countries as outsourcing destinations.  Money quotes:

After looking on for years as Asia cashed in on the outsourcing boom, Africa is now aggressively seeking its piece of the action.

Datamonitor, a consulting firm that follows outsourcing, estimates that there are 54,000 call-center jobs in the most advanced countries in Africa, out of a total of 6 million such jobs worldwide. But the 54,000 figure only includes South Africa and the countries of North Africa, not emerging call centers in places like Ghana and Kenya.

“There’s a lot of potential in Africa,” said Peter Ryan, an analyst at Datamonitor. “India, the Philippines and Canada are relatively mature, and that means wages and real estate are higher. So companies are asking, ‘Are there other locations?’ “

South Africa is far ahead of the rest of the continent, with an estimated 500 call centers employing about 31,000 people. South Africa boasts that the accents of its workers are neutral enough to fool English speakers everywhere. It also has the same time zones as parts of Europe, making doing business easier.

Ghana, which makes similar claims about its population’s understandable English, has lured Affiliated Computer Services Inc., an outsourcing company based in Dallas that employs about 2,000 Ghanaians to process health forms for Aetna and other insurers.

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