Ghana Association of Software & IT Services launch

Computing

GASSCOM to promote the growth of information technology services and business process outsourcing in Ghana

Anybody with the misfortune to need help or advice from a public utility, government agency, hospital, airline or even some big businesses in Ghana will know the frustrations, delay, expensive time wasting leading to annoyance of the frequently proffered expression ‘go and come’ or I’m working on it.’

In more sophisticated economies where the consumer is ‘king’ and doesn’t hesitate to point out that ‘it’s me who’s paying your salary,’ more and more organisations outsource their front office services, and other operations, to a contact centre where customers can be accorded due time and diligence by trained staff who can answer queries at a computer keystroke. This is designed to improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs, diversify corporate risk in the event of a disaster and minimise bureaucracy.

To promote the growth of business process outsourcing (BPO) as a major business opportunity, a number of private sector information technology organisations have come together to form the Ghana Association of Software and IT Services (GASSCON)

The Association, which is supported by the World Bank, was launched on 5 November in the presence of its founders by Ghana’s Minister of Communications, the Hon Benjamin Aggrey-Ntim.

Ceremony Chairman, academic Kofi Bentil, described Ghana business as ‘strong on talk but slow to act.’ Meanwhile, BPO companies from India including HCL, realising that they were losing the competitive advantage in their own territory, were already migrating to and investing in Ghana.

World Bank representative, Mavis Ampah, recounted that she had just returned from a fact finding visit to Kigali in Rwanda where she was astonished at the speed of BPO development. There was a determined push by the Rwandan government to create jobs in the sector fast and they were marketing themselves much more effectively than Ghana to potential customers in the outside world.

CEO of Persol Systems and founder member of GASSCON, Michael Quarshie explained that a significant factor inhibiting BPO development in Ghana was the high cost of workspace as well as bandwidth. Drawing comparisons with America where many organisations outsource to developing countries including the Phillipines and China, Mr Quarshie said that the cost of bandwidth in Ghana was $4,200 compared with $300 for the same bandwidth in America. He went on to say that the remit of GASSCOM was to act as a catalyst to encourage and guide the industry.

In his keynote speech, the Minister of Communications said that his Ministry, through the Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) Secretariat, anticipated that the sector, currently employing around 2,500 was anticipated to grow to 40,000 generating about $750m in foreign currency earnings over the next five years, with each job within the industry likely to generate employment opportunities for a further four people in support. The Ministry was already taking action to provide office space at the Technology Park in Tema at modest cost and a recent cut in bandwidth costs from $7,000 to $4,200 was likely to be followed by further cuts in the future. The Minister urged BPO companies to market themselves, both collectively and individually, more powerfully to potential customers using high quality brochures containing irrefutable information and facts.

After ITES director, Kofi Adu-Gyan had introduced the interim executive committee of GASSCOM, a vote of thanks was proposed by Kofi Hayford, CEO of e-Services who underlined the need for Ghanaian companies to grasp this major opportunity whilst the window of availability remained open.