New investment commitments totalling R380 million were made in the Western Cape call centre industry last year – resulting in more than 2 000 new jobs. This growth is set to be matched this year, says CallingtheCape.

Speaking at the annual general meeting of the industry promotion body yesterday, executive director Luke Mills said these new investment commitments accounted for 25% of the total foreign direct investment facilitated by the Western Cape development agency Wesgro last year. CallingtheCape is part of Wesgro.

Outlining CallingtheCape's goals for 2005, Mills says the body hoped to secure at least another R380 million in investment and another 2 000 jobs, as well as a commitment from at least one global multinational outsourcer to develop operations in Cape Town.

City of Cape Town alderman Clifford Sitonga said the city's integrated development plan had set an ambitious target of creating 25 000 new jobs in this industry between 2004 and 2008.

Acknowledging the sector's importance, Sitonga said the city and the provincial government expected to allocate further funding to CallingtheCape in their next financial year.

CallingtheCape has also implemented a black economic empowerment (BEE) programme. Last year this included assisting 60 learners into the commercial workplace, supporting a programme through which 65 Afrikaans-speaking black students learned Dutch, reaching 10 000 young learners through a schools outreach programme and aiding the formation of eight new black-owned outsourcing companies.

“We now have 32 outsourcing companies in the Western Cape,” Mills said, “of which 50% have some measure of black shareholding.” He said CallingtheCape will soon appoint consultants to assist with business development and raise finance for young, black-owned companies.