For long India has been regarded as the doyen of global outsourcing. But this is gradually changing as Africa folds up its technical sleeves for the lucrative
Business Process Outsourcing industry. Already, a number of global Fortune 500 as well as Fortune 300 companies have set up shop in Africa in this developing trade duel that is seeing Africa give India a run for its Rupees.
Writing in a June 24th 2004 column of Pakistan’s ‘Daily News’, G. Pascal Zachary, the Canada-based former Wall Street Journal senior columnist, international writer and author of the widely acclaimed ‘The Diversity Advantage: Multicultural Identity in the New World Economy’, confirmed ‘the big news that Africa is finally competing in the economic contest that is reshaping the world economy’. “To be sure, Africa is a far better place to do business than five years ago, Zachary had asserted. Nothing can be more graphic of this than KenCall a Nairobi-based outsourcing company. Zachary’s article titled ‘Outsourcing in Africa’, gave a lot of insight into the then rapidly emerging BPO bazaar in Africa.
While Ghana prides itself as the leading outsourcing destination in West Africa, Kenya on the other hand has stamped its authority in East, Central and Southern Africa. KenCall, the Kenyan company and arguably the largest outsourcing company in Eastern and Central Africa, has not only beaten India to the cookie jar, but is also blazing the trail, literally, in Africa’s emerging BPO market.
With an employee pedestal of over 450, the company is the biggest in terms of technical, logistical as well as professional endowment. Graduate customer service agents, ICT personnel, research analysts, transcribers, and managers mill the company’s floors either attending to clients in the US, Canada, Europe or Australia, doing research or technical assignments in the imposing complex.
KenCall’s pragmatic and suave CEO, Nik Nesbitt in an address to employees a while back, enthused how the company will grow to become the biggest in Africa. From an initial staff base of only 20 to its present state, KenCall’s CEO, whose sharp management skills were honed as a Vice President of the US-based Qwest Communications managing US $ 1 Billion equity, has propelled Kenya to the outsourcing limelight.
For Mr. Nesbitt, who is also a founding partner at the Colorado-based Market Race, LLC, a business consulting firm, his revolutionary management style has seen the business, which he runs with his equally debonair brother, Eric Nesbitt and financially witty brother in-law Steve Liggins, grow to attract some of the leading communications and financial corporations in the world. KenCall, whose doors officially opened in 2004, has seen growth in annual revenues of up to US $3.5 million a year.
With well trained graduates, Kenya stands tall in steering outsourcing in Africa. Currently, the Kenyan government in conjunction with other East African private sector players is laying down a US$110 million fibre optic cable system called the East African Marine Systems (TEAMS), which is going to run from the East African coastal city of Mombasa to Fujairah in Oman. The project, which is being implemented by the French communication company Alcatel Lucent, will immensely reduce the cost of internet access and bandwidth in Kenya and the rest of Eastern Africa.