Zimbabwe has the potential to become a leading Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and call centre industry in the region, on the basis of its high literacy levels, low cost per seat and low set up costs.
With the local productive sectors in a state of flux, mainly due to high capital requirements in an economy facing liquidity challenges, the services sector a�� especially the call centre industry a�� can step in to drive employment growth.
Contact Centre Association of Zimbabwe (CCAZ) projects that the local call centre industry can create over 50 000 jobs within the next five years if all the fundamentals are in place. BPO services can also boost a countrya��s revenue earnings to the extent that these services are increasingly offshore as numerous functions can be outsourced to low-cost locations.
CCAZ executive secretary Rinos Mautsa told BH24 that although the local call centre industry was still in its early stages, the sector has a competitive advantage in the region.
a�?There are three vital aspects that we think are particularly important which can help to make Zimbabwe a competitive global call centre destination which are the education levels, proficiency in spoken and written English, low cost per seat and low set up costs,a�? he said.
Zimbabwea��s high literacy levels are already reflected in the status quo of the local; call centre industry. According to the BPO and Call Centre Report (2013) which was carried out by the National Call Centre Development and Service Delivery Improvement Project Researchers in partnership with CCAZ, in 97 percent of local call centres, all agents typically have university degrees with only three percent of call centre agents having Diplomas or studying towards a Degree.
The study also showed that 89 percent of supervisors and managers of Zimbabwean call centres are holders of Masters Degrees. When comparing these figures with other countries with a higher percentage of call centres which depends primarily on employees with a University degree, Zimbabwe has the highest educated call centre workforce in the world.
The research also discovered that Zimbabwea��s labour costs were comparably lower than countries both from the region and globally. It notes that on average, labour costs account for 35 percent of total costs of operating a call Centre in Zimbabwe. This compares to 70 percent in developed countries in the global call centre study, and an average of 57 percent in all industrialising countries.
Additionally, Zimbabwe also offers a lower total (fully loaded) cost of setting up and running BPO services compared to competing regional locations, such as Mauritius, South Africa, or global locations such as India or the Philippines.
And with bandwidth cost expected to come down once the fibre optic connections are completed, that cost can even be lower. Mautsa however believes that Government can play a greater role in enhancing the capacities of the sector. a��BH24.