Kenya – The New Call Center Capital?

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With Harambee (“Let us all pull together”) as its motto, Kenya has seen significant changes in the past decade or so which has been the driving force for its economic, social development and sustained growth. The African enterprises have not been left untouched from these reforms. Digitization and digital initiatives have become a priority of the businesses.

 

Extending this thought to the call center industry, Kenya has tremendous potential of being the go-to destination for business process outsourcing (BPO). Since the time KenCall, Kenya’s first call center was founded by Nik Nesbitt in 2005, a lot has changed and improved for this East African country. Now, it is deemed to beat the earlier global regions such as India and the Philippines.

What Makes Kenya a Lucrative Destination for Call Centers?

Kenya offers various advantages compared to its competitors when it comes to setting up a call centre in the region. Let us look at some of these factors in some detail.

1. Geographical Advantage

Being one of the largest economies in East Africa, Kenya is considered the financial, transportation and communication hub. With close proximity to ports and being surrounded by the Indian Ocean, it is apt for easy transportation – which is a big perk for new businesses. Additionally, Nairobi having East Africa’s biggest airport also enables easy air travel along with cargo management. Thus, Nairobi with its ideal location, climate and other factors has seen some major organizations and foundations such as Google, Microsoft, Rockefeller, Gates, and Ford have set up their base here.

2. The Resource Pool

Kenya offers an abundance of human resources. The majority of its population (approx 52 %)  is between the age group of 15 to 54 years. The 2006 ICT Strategy Paper identified secondary school system as the “entry level threshold for call centre workers” and noted that around 700,000 students graduate at that level. These students have good communication skills which can be the stepping stone to work in the BPO sector. The competitive pool of workforce with basic computer skills and backed by good spoken English, Kenyan natives are a good choice to be hired as call center agents. Moreover, its strong travel and tourism industry has exposed the people to western culture and thus, leading to a cleaner and easy to understand English accent. 

3. Vision 2030

The Kenya Vision 2030, which was launched in 2008 aims to transform Kenya into a newly industrializing, middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030 in a clean and secure environment. The vision has identified Business Process Offshoring and IT-Enabled Services as one of the pillars to increase the GDP under this vision. The government has planned to focus on the following to boost the BPO sector.

  • Skill Development: Targeted training programs with special focus on primary processes and industry specific skills to create a qualified talent pool.
  • Marketing Campaigns: Launching and developing focused marketing programmes in targeted geographies to promote Kenya as the BPO destination.
  • Establishing a BPO Park: Construction for Konza Technology City will commence soon with the aim is to provide superior telecommunications infrastructure, easy access to international transport facilities.


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4. Infrastructural Development

The advent of submarine fibre-optic cables in Kenya opened the gates for Kenya to easily connect with the outside world at a much lower cost. At the same time it made communication within the country more affordable and convenient. The arrival of these fibre optic cables gave a boost to internet penetration which in turn encouraged the business players to setup their operations in the country and has driven the environment for ICT-led economic development.

5. Other Factors

Kenya ranks on 61st position as compared to its competitors, India (77) and the Philippines (124) in terms of the ease of doing business. The picture is similar in case of other factors such as access to credit, getting construction payments or just the overall ease of starting a new business. All these factors coupled with the already mentioned advantages, Kenya is in a great position to achieve high growth rates provided it gets a handle on certain issues like corruption and even better infrastructure.

Closing Thoughts

There is no doubt that Kenya has the potential to be the next big destination for the call center. But, the story does not just end there rather it starts from here. Once the businesses are established, the call centers are up and running, you just need one thing – a call center software to take care of all your call management needs. Typically there are two ways to set up a call center, namely, on-premise or on-cloud. Keeping the phase of development that Kenya is in currently, enterprises need to make a conscious call of whether they want to opt for an on-premise call center solution or a cloud contact center. Either way, Kenya is all set to take its competitors head on and be the most favorable destination for BPO and ICT industry.

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