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Success city: Cape Town has found itself the focus of South Africa’s BPO industry


but is consideringexpanding intoJohannesburg and Durban. “In terms of internet connectivity in South


Africa, we have no issues whatsoever with in- office connectivity,” says Gary Slade, chief exec- utive officer of Teleperformance UK and South Africa. “However, we have had some issues with out-of-office connectivity. Broadband deploy- ment has been slow in the country and less than 3% of our staff have it in their homes. The good news is the country’s telecommunica- tions companies have worked hard to improve network capacity, so voice-over standards are nowacceptable.”


Providing opportunities The industry says it provides South Africans with good jobs with clear career prospects. Around 88% of employees who work for over- seas clients are under the age of 35 while 65%of the workforce are women, according to BPESA. It says that around 90% are black or mixed race, andmost reside in townships. “In a country in which 43% of 15- to 34-year-


olds are officiallyunemployed, any workwhich provides dignity and money is better than no work at all,” says Jon Foster-Pedley, the dean of the Henley Business School in South Africa. “Remote working creates all kinds of opportu- nities for South Africa in the future. The coun- try is pretty Westernised and all sorts of high- value functions can be outsourced to here.”


February/March 2021 www.fDiIntelligence.com Mr Slade adds: “I have not found any func-


tion that South African employees cannot do. We are able to place more complex work there than was originally thought possible, includ- ing in finance and accounting. South Africa is particularly good in the area of front office functions; it is as good as, if not better than, the UK, for example. Our industry probably offers the best career prospects of any industry world- wide. For every 15 agents, I need a team leader and for every 30 agents a quality assurance manager.” He adds that his South African employees


earn around three to four times the minimum wage of R20.76 per hour ($1.37). The solid performance of South Africa’s


BPO sector is partly due to the backing it has received from the national government. The country’s Department of Trade, Industry and Competition has provided the industry with incentives in the form of grants and bonuses valued at R1.3bn ($87m) between 2007 and 2018. In 2019, it committed a further R1.2bn for sector support and other operational-improve- ment support programmes. South Africa’s BPO industry is expanding


fast and is likely to continue to do so in the post- Covid world, as many Western companies embrace remote working and migrate func- tions previously carried out in the developed world to cheaper, but productive locations in emergingmarkets.■


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