The world is getting flatter, according to many offshoring observers. To a large degree, this is true. The plethora of overseas destinations vaunting themselves as the next big thing in BPO some 10 – 15 years ago are no more, because so many have become established centers of delivery excellence. Now there is a school of thought among some in the industry that if a country is not already at the front-office offshoring table, it never will be. However, this is simply not the case, especially when it comes to the outsourcing potential of many African locations, which over the past few years have emerged as nascent BPO delivery points. Provided the right components are in place, Africa has the potential to grow its offshoring options for providers and their clients.
Offshore outsourcing from Africa is not new. One need only consider the existing BPO investment in African countries that include Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia. In each of these jurisdictions, the CX services industry is alive and well, with the most established brands in the world supporting end-users in North America, Australia / New Zealand and Western Europe. Notwithstanding these success stories in the northern and southern ends of this continent, the green shoots of outsourcing excellence are showing themselves throughout Africa.
Frankly speaking, the region abounds in BPO opportunities outside of the four established countries listed above. In fact, many locations that are not traditionally associated with offshoring host operators that are servicing consumers in major demand markets. Take Nigeria, for example. Today Outsource Global provides both front-line and back-office support to clients based in the USA and the UK. Not to be outdone, CCI Global has made Kenya one of its African delivery hubs, reinvigorating that country’s dormant outsourcing value proposition. And, while legacy adverse political and economic factors have been a challenge, an ambitious contact center sector has emerged in Zimbabwe.
Significant multilingual deployments are a reminder that emerging Africa is not an English-only play. The most notable country in this regard has to be Senegal, which has become a strong French delivery alternative for end-users in Europe and Canada. Already Senegal has attracted BPO powerhouses that include Ibex and Intelcia. Meanwhile, Mozambique and Angola each have their own home-grown operators providing service delivery in Portuguese for overseas consumers.
The above are but a few of the shining examples that can be found throughout Africa. Local entrepreneurs and forward-looking governments, together with a handful of global players, are blazing a BPO trail on that continent. But those operating from emerging Africa need to be conscious that the formula needed going forward will be different from the one that got them to this point. While improving economic / political stability alongside skills development have been major factors in BPO expansion within these burgeoning locations, virtual delivery capabilities beyond traditional brick-and-mortar facilities will take on a much greater importance. Thus, lobbying relevant regulatory bodies for the best possible connectivity to residences is a must for ongoing relevance in the global market. So too will be aggressive promotional efforts to lure clients and other outsourcers to these countries, backed up by regulation that ensures a competitive commercial playing-field.
This latter factor worked like a charm for upstart offshore and nearshore destinations in the early-mid 2000s. Emerging Africa’s BPO stakeholders would be wise to use many of these locations as case studies as inspiration for a way forward in the 2020s.