The ability of any jurisdiction to present itself as a fresh, new alternative to prospective outsourcing investors and buyers of their services is never easy. But, the reality is that in order for front-office BPO to sustain itself over the long term, leveraging emerging locations is the only way to do so. This is not lost on the South African municipality of Tshwane, which recently engaged with AHP International to undertake a trade mission to North America, with the express goal of drawing awareness to its BPO offering. And that offering is compelling; notwithstanding the competition from different countries / regions around the world eager to win outsourcing investment, there can be little doubt that Tshwane is solid contender for the delivery of a variety of offshore functions.
Braving New York City and Toronto at the end of October is a cold prospect, but representatives of TEDA, Solugrowth and DTI braved the elements in order to explain the value of outsourcing in Tshwane to interested outsourcers, influencers and buyers. This jurisdiction is located just north of Johannesburg, and houses a population of nearly three million. At the heart of Tshwane is South Africa’s administrative capitol, Pretoria. Notwithstanding this jurisdiction’s historical and governmental significance, which have afforded it a robust cultural scene, there are a number of factors that have the potential to drive more outsourcing investment into Tshwane.
Among the most important is geographic situation, in that Tshwane is easily accessible by air, given its proximity to the Oliver Tambo International Airport. This global gateway is linked to multiple points in Tshwane within minutes via the modern, highly-efficient Gautrain. For global BPO executives and their clients coming in from overseas or from other parts of Africa, accessing their contact centers in a short amount of time cannot be understated. That the labor force providing front-line support in outsourced operations can also use this transport network, leading to better punctuality and safer travel is an added benefit. Equally, the efforts that the municipality has been making to render itself BPO-ready with plug and play business parks, which would mean minimal effort for inward outsourcing investors, is also very important as a drawing card. These efforts have begun to bear fruit, in that a number of third-party operators have set up in Tshwane, with Webhelp among the most notable.
But, as part of a broader context, Tswhane’s appeal is part of a South African one, which is becoming more apparent in North America. This was quantified in the 2018 Ryan Strategic Advisory Front Office Omnibus Survey, where South Africa was ranked among the top five most favored offshore delivery locations in both the US and Canada. Arguably, much of this is being driven by the already-solid base of international and local providers that have been delivering solid support to end-users around the world from that country. It is also because of the emergence of new regions beyond the Western Cape, which perhaps have not been traditional hotbeds of BPO work, but are hungry to win this type of investment moving forward. This remains one of the most important elements to South Africa’s offshore outsourcing viability; capacity is not concentrated in one community, but dispersed across multiple urban centers. Given its population, accessibility and interest from North American providers, Tshwane has the potential to play a central role in this cross-country outsourcing roll out.