BusinessWeek’s recent article on rising outsourcing destinations highlights what many African entrepreneurs have proposed for years. Outsourcing to parts of Africa can be a win-win situation. The BusineesWeek article refers to consultancy A.T. Kearney’s 2007 list of the 50 most desirable outsourcing destinations worldwide. For the list countries were ranked by a) financial attractiveness, based on such measures as compensation and infrastructure costs; b) a so-called people score, measuring a nation’s people skills, availability of language and educational skills, and the size and quality of the IT industry; and c) their economic/political environment, infrastructure quality, cultural exposure, and IP security. While India remains the top outsourcing destination many African countries are learning from their example. (Note: Scores are in parentheses.)
Rank – Country (overall – financial – people – environment)
#13 – Egypt (5.6 – 3.2 – 1.1 – 1.3)
#25 – Mauritius (5.4 – 2.8 – 1.0 – 1.6)
#26 – Tunisia (5.4 – 3.0 – 0.9 – 1.5)
#27 – Ghana (5.5 – 3.3 – 0.9 – 1.3)
#31 – South Africa (5.3 – 2.5 – 1.2 – 1.6)
#36 – Morocco (5.1 – 2.9 – 0.9 – 1.3)
#39 – Senegal (5.1 – 3.2 – 0.8 – 1.1)
Other factors which add to a countries’ attractiveness are language and education skills and the reliability of a nation’s telecommunications infrastructure. But the the key underlying factor for many African countries’ successful bid for new business is the lack of infrastructure. While the African digerati are continuously ramping up their skills and making themselves available for business they continuously run into infrastructural limitations. But who is to blame? Is it the governments who are overrun with bureaucracy? or the people themselves, who often do not hold their leaders accountable?
Offshoring upstarts are making so many inroads, in fact, that by 2012, they’ll significantly dilute India’s dominance, says consultancy Gartner (IT). The consulting firm says that by 2010 about 30% of Fortune 500 enterprises will outsource to three or more countries, from less than 10% today. “So many governments have realized what an opportunity this is and there’s a lot of effort being spent in promoting their countries to the market,” says Johan Gott, manager of A.T. Kearney’s Global Services Location Index.
…Kenya, for instance, is trying to become a destination for business process and IT outsourcing. The Kenyan government has worked in recent years to liberalize its telecom sector, which has lured more operators and helped drive telecom services prices down by 70% in a short time, according to the World Bank. Yet the country relies on satellite connections to link to the rest of the world. That makes it costly for outsourcers to do business.