Uganda's youthful population, its computer literacy and the good command of the English language, are special attributes which have been identified as potential factors to steer Uganda into a global business process outsourcing destination.
According to Mr James Saaka, the executive director National Information Technology Authority, India is currently the leading global destination for business process outsourcing jobs where companies in the developed world contract out non-core business processes to cheaper and effective service providers because of rising labour costs in Europe.
The largest BPOSpeaking at the third annual BPO Conclave in Kampala last week, Mr Saaka said India currently is the largest BPO employer where it now creates 100 million jobs per annum because it has proved to be the most cost-effective because most companies have capitalised on business models to outsource. "ICTs have linked the entire globe. Time and distance are no longer a problem. In 2006, the global outsourcing revenue stood between $120bn-150bn and most of it was offshore business with India alone taking between 5 per cent to 6 per cent of the business," he said. Currently, it is estimated that the global revenue from the business stands at $952bn.
In incubationLast week, the government commissioned a 250 BPO incubation centre at Statistics House in Kampala where 3,000 graduates are currently undergoing training. According to Rogers Karebi, the secretary general of the Uganda Business Process Outsourcing Association, currently, there are only 48 registered members of the association and three operators running the incubation BPO training centre. He said the main services they offer include tele-sales, which involve calling customers and conducting customer surveys, transcription services, and software development.
"We want to partner with local companies like Uganda National Examinations Board, Uganda National Bureau of Standards, The Uganda Registration Services Bureau so that we can help them to digitise all their records," he said.
Among the possible job openings in the IT sector are services management, which include managed operations, customer experience management, value added services business support systems, business intelligence and analytics data and cloud services. Other possible areas include telemarketing, out and in bound sales, in-bound helplines, help desk and trouble shooting, product installation, frequently asked questions creation and hosting, data processing and entry validation, document management, order management and e-mail responses among others.
According to industry experts, the Tanzanian public service is currently the best example in East Africa where government has benefited immensely from outsourcing the cleaning of its payroll. In an interview last week, Selva Kumar the chief executive officer Greeno Tech Solution, the World Bank and the Tanzanian government outsourced a pilot project to clean up the civil service payroll and the results have saved government and the civil servants time and the pain they previously went through.
"Today in Tanzania, government has weeded out ghost workers because the system automatically weeds them out when they die because they are supposed to be verified physically every three month," he said.
He added that the system has been able to plug gaps like absenteeism amongst civil servants, failure to report to new duty stations when they are posted to work and it has also made it easy for civil servants to receive their salaries promptly.
Taking advantageAccording to Anand Nagarajan the head of the India National Association of Software Service companies (NASSOM ) government must take advantage of the literacy of Uganda's youthful unemployed population because most of them are computer literate and can speak excellent English saying it is one of the qualities that outsourcing companies lookout for.
"The entire world is doing business using English. You are lucky here that your children start speaking it when they are still young. In India speaking and learning English is a challenge because we speak our mother tongue all the time and the English sometimes has an accent," he said adding that India earns $108b from exporting services which contribute 8 per cent of GDP and 70 per cent of the foreign direct investment.