Kenya urged to exploit BPO industry

May 25, 2010
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – Kenya should capitalise on the opportunities that are bound to be created following the ongoing economic crisis in the developed world to grow its Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry.

NetApp Area Director for Middle East, Africa and Pakistan Martyn Molnar said with the debt stricken Europe and with America trying to recover from the global financial crisis, many companies will be looking to outsource their businesses as a way of cutting their costs.

“There are several challenges facing each of those individual countries which are forcing them to embark on the toughest austerity packages. So you are going to see a move towards outsourcing large portions of their business,” he said.
 
Kenya which is touted as one of the strongest African economies will be a likely beneficiary due to its many advantages including a rising middle class, educated workforce and increased bandwidth. The country also has a big talent pool which has seen many call centres established and set the stage for Kenya to market itself as an outsourcing destination.

Although it is joining the global BPO market when there are already established countries such as India and Philippines, the government still believes that it has the potential to contribute significantly to economic growth. This has seen the industry identified as one of the sub sectors that will drive Vision 2030 by creating thousands of jobs and earning the economy billions of shillings in revenues.

“If I look at Kenya, I see an opportunity to be in that market because there’s bandwidth and there is a vision that is all about creating an enabling environment.  If you look at the West, their vision at the moment is to cut costs,” Mr Molnar said.

He pointed out that the government now needs to address the skill and capacity constraints in the sector which would enable it to identify and offer services for a niche market.

By employing the best practices, the best tools and technology, the country would be able to clinch the big contracts which would go a long way in propelling it as an outsourcing hub, he added.

The sector has grown rapidly recording a six percent increase over the last three years and all efforts are being made to enable it to exploit the potential estimated to be worth Sh45 billion.

As a data management organisation, the director said NetApp would work with the government to implement the best practices to make the local BPO sector competitive at the global stage.

“We are engaging on the product spectrum, on the whole knowledge transfer and process spectrum as well. When we believe that have we have defined the right processes around data management then we can work hand in hand with the service providers to make sure that we have what the customer needs,” he added.

Information Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo acknowledged that the country was facing many challenges as it moves to adopt ICT in all sectors of the economy thus the need to seek help from the experts.

“By partnering with people who understand all these problems makes it easier for us and more efficient that trying several models,” he said.

Cyber security is one of the biggest headaches that the PS admitted to having but added that the partnership arrangements they were considering with such firms would help address such issues.

Although there are laws to deal with security issues, it is inadequate to address all the emerging problems brought about by the dynamic technological advancement.

Dr Ndemo said they were looking to training people in this area by for example facilitating the return of qualified Kenyans in the Diaspora which would in turn help ensure the safety of government data.

His remarks came a day after an information technology specialists said that Kenya is not adequately prepared to deal with dangers that increased internet usage pose to cyber security.

Securityrisk Solutions Director of Operations Jason Finlayson told Capital Business that although the country has in the few years that internet penetration has increased tried to put in place measures to curb cyber fraud, there is still so much that needs to be done.

He pointed to the operationalisation of the undersea fibre optic cables which increases the country’s vulnerability to cyber crime and therefore called for the implementation of measures such as enactment of proper policy frameworks and public awareness campaigns to protect the country’s information.

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