CALL CENTRE BOOM IS SET TO CONTINUE IN SOUTH AFRICA

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

CapeTown's call centre and business process outsourcing industry has grown by 30% a year for the past three years and can probably sustain that momentum as more foreign firms award contracts to local players.

The industry now employs 22000 people, up 41% from 2005, according to research by Deloittes and CallingtheCape, a body working to promote the region as a call centre hub.

CallingtheCape believes the industry offers SA's greatest opportunity for large-scale job creation for young, previously disadvantaged people, as long as it is backed by efforts to encourage more investments and grow the talent pool.

The sector's 200 active players already generate R2,5bn-R3,3bn a year, accounting for 2,4% of the Western Cape's income and creating 3% of the formal employment in Cape Town.

The number of companies serving overseas clients has grown particularly rapidly, from 12 in 2004 to 26 today. Nearly 2500 agents, or 15% of the total, work exclusively for offshore customers.

The report says SA is increasingly being seen as a viable alternative to India and the Philippines as a location for quality, offshore contact centre work, particularly in customer-intensive processes such as customer service, sales and technical support.

CallingtheCape director Luke Mills said that since 2003 his organisation had helped to attract capital investment of almost R500m from 30 mainly offshore companies. They were spending R830m on their local operations every year, Mills said.

Committed new investments and expansions planned for the next two years would add 7500 jobs. Starting salaries had remained fairly constant and a staff turnover of 14,8% a year was low by global standards.

This year CallingtheCape's job training scheme will give 1000 unemployed matriculants training in life skills, IT skills and customer service and work experience.

Business Day