What a great week to start a blog about East African outsourcing. Having just returned from a meeting with some of the key people in the Kenyan BPO fraternity and the Kenyan Government, I’m really excited about the prospects for outsourcing in the country. I have just been appointed, along with Gilda Odera, Chair of the Kenya BPO and Contact Centre Society, to the government’s first BPO/ITES council. We will be working directly with the Prime Minister’s office coordinating and sometimes leading the government’s approach to outsourcing some of its own services.
If you have been following KenCall’s (my company) progress selling Kenyan outsourcing to the UK and US markets, you would have noticed we’ve been out there pretty much all alone. As the first and biggest call centre in Kenya (so far) we have a privileged position, but that also means we’ve got to do everything first. Breaking into foreign markets is a vital step for us and the industry, and for the last few years we’ve been doing it by ourselves. With the formation of the BPO Council, this looks soon set to change.
Just to clarify, the government isn’t throwing money at us to promote existing outsourcers selling abroad. Its aim is to act as an enabler and catalyst. By aiding us in strategically enhancing the infrastructure, economic and legal environment and encouraging government agencies to outsource as much as is prudent, it hopes to further build Kenya’s already burgeoning BPO industry. As it builds, existing suppliers will strengthen, while new entrepreneurs will find market entry much easier. The result is that Kenyan BPO will begin to make its name felt on the world stage. Outsourcing at home, something that is really starting to take off, will also become firmly established.
The Council is going to be meeting twice a month going forward, so we are expecting to make a lot of positive changes as rapidly as possible. Some initial priorities will be:
• Helping the government and public sector move towards e-government and the use of shared and outsourced services where appropriate
• Addressing the tax environment to make it easier for new outsourcers, existing global players and those sourcing from Kenya
• Working with investment authorities to focus spending in the right areas to help the industry grow
• Work with different government agencies to make Kenya a favourable BPO destination
With things moving as quickly as they are, hopefully we should have lots to discuss at the ICANN conference
coming to Nairobi in March. We plan to make 2010 Kenya’s year.